In with the new: When returns are a win-win

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Sara Whiffen loves to shop, but was running out of room in her closet. Applying the sales model she saw in the auto industry to fashion, Whiffen devised a way to keep wardrobes looking fresh: Her tech startup Rohvi helps retailers like Amy Gardner, owner of fashion boutique Scarpa in Charlottesville, Va., give customers a way to affordably refresh their looks by returning previously purchased items for store credit. On this episode of Retail Gets Real, Whiffen and Gardner discuss how the partnership is a win-win for both retailers and customers.

With help from Rohvi’s data and services platform, retailers like Scarpa can invite customers to return to the store to exchange previous purchases — items that perhaps spend more time in the closet than the customer originally intended. The program stimulates repurchase for the retailer and allows customers to refresh their wardrobes to suit their changing needs.

Sara Whiffen (right) and Amy Gardner (center) joined host Bill Thorne (left) in the podcast studio.

Sara Whiffen (right) and Amy Gardner (center) joined host Bill Thorne (left) in the podcast studio.

Scarpa’s customers are excited for the opportunity to exchange what didn’t work and try something new. They view it “more like a treat,” Gardner says, “and less like a transaction.” The feedback itself is a gold mine — Gardner adjusts her buying strategy depending on what products are often given up versus which ones seem to be most popular.

After over 20 years in business, Gardner knows her customers well, but her constant thought is how to remain interesting in the face of changing consumer preferences. The partnership with Rohvi gives a small business like hers another touchpoint after sales are made, helping with customer retention and nurturing loyalty without having to worry about reselling returned items.

Listen to the episode to learn how Rohvi implements the innovative buy-back program with retailers. If you liked this episode, check out our past episodes and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes.

Sarah Rand is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.