TAKE A SHOT: improved returns processing to two minutes with automation
There are products that are simply better suited for stationary retail than for online business. With sunglasses, for example, when it comes to personal styling, customers are known to be as picky as they are demanding.
For this very reason, TAKE A SHOT was rather off the online world for years. Eyeglass frames and watches were primarily offered in over 300 retail stores. But then Covid completely turned upside down the world as we know it.
In this interview, co-founder Hannes Ott tells us how the pandemic affected TAKE A SHOT and how the company responded to the new challenges. He also reveals why he and his team chose the 8returns' returns portal, how automated returns affect day-to-day business, and how well the implementation of 8returns’ returns software for his Shopify store actually worked.
Always on the lookout for a sustainable alternative: That is TAKE A SHOT
TAKE A SHOT was founded back in 2011 by Hannes Ott and Matthias Jacob. Their idea: fashion accessories made from renewable raw materials that do not have to shy away from the competition of well-known brands in terms of design and quality.
From humble beginnings and first delivering wooden sunglasses in the trunk of their own car, the brand developed over the years and is now a permanent fixture in the assortment of numerous boutiques and fashion houses: more than 300 retailers in the DACH region are among TAKE A SHOT's distribution partners.
At the same time, the range of products offered by the Leipzig-based company grew along with the company. In addition to eyeglass frames, the brand's portfolio now also includes watches and cell phone cases made from sustainable materials.
Today, the TAKE A SHOT team consists of six permanent employees and generates large sales year after year.
From offline stores to an online business: sales channel change with manual returns
For ten years, TAKE A SHOT worked and grew without having to deal intensively with the issue of returns. Until the pandemic hit. Here's how the company changed over these past two years. Hannes reports:
Focus initially on retail
"Due to the nature of our products we first concentrated on the stationary trade as a sales channel.
Customers sometimes want to try on dozens of pairs of sunglasses before they decide on a model.
Of course, this is much easier to do on-site than in an online store. Hardly anyone wants to go to the trouble of ordering twelve pairs of glasses, only to return eleven afterward.
"Accordingly, we had little work with return shipping over many years. Of course, we had a website, which had a certain relevance for our sales, but it was not comparable to the impact after the pandemic. In the event of a return, our support team was able to sort everything out by hand, and the working time did not make much of a difference.
Customers were required to send us an e-mail if they wanted to return their goods. We then created and sent a return slip to DHL and communicated briefly with our external logistics partner. We took care of the main part of the returns processing on-site.``
New business focus pushes for automation of returns processing
"Then when the first nationwide lockdown hit in 2020, it quickly became clear to us that we needed to change our focus: Away from retail and towards our Shopify store. This way, we managed to keep the demand for our accessories high without any changes. However, this reorientation also meant a lot more internal work at the same time.
Returns management in particular ate up a disproportionate amount of our support staff's time. Although we have automated numerous steps as best as possible, personal contact with our customers is very important to us. That's why our support staff spent half the day answering emails and filling out and sending out return labels.
That worked for the time being, but it quickly became clear that a new solution would be needed in the long run. If we continued to grow - and it looked like we were - our current system would not be able to scale. That's why we started looking for software that would automate our returns. Thanks to personal contact, we finally chose 8returns."
Strong time savings through early intervention: Automated returns in the Shopify store with 8returns
TAKE A SHOT has been working with the returns portal from 8returns for almost a year now. Hannes tells us how the implementation turned out and what has changed in his company since then:
An immediately usable system and clear distribution of roles in the back end
"It couldn’t have been easier to implement 8returns. Everything worked straight away without any problems; within two hours we had trained our support team in the software. Our external fulfillment partner was also thrilled after we connected him to 8returns. Now he no longer has to fill out Excel spreadsheets, but can handle everything directly in the software.
We also did not have to adapt anything. The automatically generated e-mails, for example, were already adapted to our corporate design. Actually, we only had one wish: that the software could be used in roles with different authorizations in order to prevent errors.
8returns delivered this for us quickly and today we operate with three roles: The admin with full access, our in-house support who mainly takes care of refunds, and our fulfiller who has complete insight into the status of a return."
More time through automation: two minutes per return
"Overall, we are extremely satisfied with 8returns' solution. If I had to estimate, I would say that we can now process a single return in two minutes. This gives our support team enough time again to take care of more important tasks.
Of course, this fast turnaround time also means that our system is well equipped for the future: if sales continue to grow, and with them the number of returns, we will simply scale along without overloading our customer service.
That's why we're already working with 8returns on new ideas for returns shipping. For example, we are planning to introduce a voucher system in the future: If a customer can be convinced to forgo a return, he or she will receive a discount on the next purchase. This is good for us, good for our customers and, of course, also makes sense from an ecological point of view.
Good advice for the returns management of Shopify stores
The change of the main sales channel went completely smoothly for TAKE A SHOT thanks to the new returns portal and automated returns. The team is also prepared for the future because 8returns scales easily and is ready to implement new functions if necessary.
However, Hannes has one last tip for all traders:
"I can only advise online stores to automate as much as possible. The automation of standard processes relieves employees and creates a lot of free time for core tasks, which is why the implementation of 8returns was so valuable for us.
Considering the fact that even after the pandemic, business on the web will continue to grow at an ever-increasing rate: merchants should take care of their planning early on."
All images courtesy of TAKE A SHOT.