Sustainable Online Returns Tech Start-Up the Perfect Fit For Leading Footwear Retailer Clarks

Clarks Improves Customer Satisfaction and Cuts Down Environmental Waste By Adopting New OtailO Returns Management Technology

Global footwear retailer Clarks has signed a deal with circular economy tech start-up, OtailO, to help process online product returns and reduce its environmental footprint.

The two-hundred-year-old shoemaker has gone live with OtailO’s sustainable online product returns solution in the UK and is now looking to expand it to the United States. Clarks is using OtailO’s inspection mechanism in order to streamline specific return scenarios. This inspection enables Clarks to assess the condition of the return while it is still in the consumers hands, and to take actions accordingly. This enables more efficient business decisions and returns routing.

OtailO’s solution has already helped Clarks cut waste by removing pre-printed labels, and the retailer intends to remove all paperwork by the end of the year.

The new system, which makes it easy for online shoppers to return purchases through a straightforward web application has already managed to reduce customer calls around returns by 25%, turn 2,500 returns into exchanges, and save the retailer thousands of pounds in returns-associated costs.

OtailO, founded by Ronit and Alessandro Mayer in 2019 (pictured), is revolutionising the returns and reverse logistics supply chain by enabling retail and ecommerce customers to return goods to approved bricks-and-mortar stores for resale, as well as by post. OtailO’s smart engine delivers cost savings and environmental benefits by intercepting the return and routes it to the nearest, most logical, location.

Clarks, which sold more than 40 million pairs of shoes worldwide last year, was founded by James and Cyrus Clark in 1825. The company is focused on growing its footprint worldwide, both in store and through online sales, while committing to a sustainable and circular approach.

Ecommerce companies are impacted by consumers returning 30% of all online purchases each year, and in the fashion market this figure can climb to over 50%. Furthermore, due to current logistical difficulties, 50% of all online product returns from ecommerce firms have to be trashed or sold for next to nothing in secondary markets.

In comparison, Clarks, through its sustainability practices, has long been committed to reusing, recycling and preventing wastes and goods from going to landfill. By working with OtailO, Clarks is looking to further improve its environmental promise by ensuring that more pairs of shoes and other footwear can be returned by customers in a more sustainable manner and resold.

OtailO’s Software as a Service (SaaS) technology allows Clarks to process, validate, and resell returns by utilising machine learning algorithms. OtailO disrupts the reverse logistics process and, as a result, becomes the largest inventory management system without having any warehouses.

Victor Bayata, Director of Customer Experience, Retail and Digital, at Clarks said: “Not only is OtailO helping us reduce costs and increase revenues by cutting our reverse logistics overheads, it’s also reducing wastage and carbon emissions. Using OtailO’s customer-friendly technology we’re simplifying our supply chain, and the inspection functionality has reduced ineligible returns, eliminating unnecessary reverse logistics, meaning there is less of a carbon footprint.”

“We’re already seeing shopper satisfaction increase and look forward to working more closely with OtailO to embed their technology into more parts of our business, as the pandemic eases. In the not too distant future, we can see the solution delivering further benefits for both the high street and our sustainability goals, by allowing customers to drop off more returns at local stores.”

Ronit Mayer, Chief Executive of OtailO said: “We’re delighted to be working with a forward thinking and sustainability driven retailer like Clarks. Given the pressures our climate and natural resources are under, it’s vital that we do everything we can to reduce the carbon footprint of our logistics supply chains and ensure goods are reused, rather than end up in landfill.”

“We created OtailO to tackle these critical issues that online retailers face, creating a returns management ecosystem that not only reduces carbon emissions and wastage but also helps re-invigorate local high street businesses.”