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[INTERVIEW] CEO explains why ZigZag is revolutionising returns

26 October 2017

Today at Pentagon, we are delighted to be talking with Al Gerrie, CEO and Co-Founder of Shoptalk Europe’s start up of the year ZigZag Global.

Hi Al! In a few words, please can you describe why retailers should be paying attention to ZigZag?

ZigZag is revolutionising the way that retailers handle returns. We helping to push exchanges instead of returns and slash the cost and waste associated with returns. We are helping to get customers refunded in less than 48 hours and reducing the time it takes to book a return to less than 60 seconds.

Where did the idea for ZigZag come from?

As an online retailer at OFFICE and Mountain Warehouse, I was always acutely aware of the challenges facing retailers and consumers around returns. When I couldn’t find a suitable solution in the market I decided to give up the day job and launch my own! It has been three years of constant development and market analysis, and the platform continues to evolve at a tremendous pace and will do for some time to come I would expect.

What makes ZigZag stand out from the competition?

The ZigZag platform is built by a retailer for retailers. At ZigZag we truly understand the pain points that retailers face and also that the returns proposition isn’t simply getting the returned goods back to the retailer. The platform is designed to ensure that the intelligent decisions are taken to get the goods either resold, re-routed or disposed of in-country as quickly as possible.

Through our partnership with Pentagon, ZigZag is the only returns proposition that can grade goods in country for subsequent sale on marketplaces. We have yet to see a similar platform that empowers all areas of the retailer’s business to take fast, effective and sustainable decisions.

How is ZigZag saving time and money for its customers?

ZigZag has built a global network of 220 warehouses and 55 courier partners in 130 countries, and through our relationship with Pentagon we are also plugged into 26 online marketplaces.

We are helping retailers to save money on the repatriation of goods and the recovery of value of the goods via resale in-market either through marketplaces or direct sales through their site. Via the ZigZag returns management platform, retailers can refund customers in hours rather than days and this is helping them to significantly reduce overhead and costs in their customer service teams.

How easily can ZigZag be integrated in to a retailer own systems and other partner systems?

Our fastest integration to a retailer was 56 minutes. We only need two simple feeds from a retailer that they are already generating and sending out to other partners and then we need a small amount of time to customise and configure the portal as well as map the best returns route per country.

Does ZigZag partner with any other logistics providers to deliver its solution?

ZigZag has built an impressive network of logistics partners spanning 130 countries. These include major 3PL partners giving us access to around 220 warehouses plus over 55 carrier partners providing postal services, courier collections, lockers and drop-off points.

We have 325,000 drop off points in Europe alone now and increasingly our offering will be paperless and mobile first in line with the trend towards mobile commerce which now represents around 50% of all eCommerce transactions.

How important is returns management for international retailers, particularly fashion retailers?

Returns in fashion are typically around 40% – this can be as high as 60% in markets such as Germany and Austria which has a mail order catalogue heritage where goods are only paid for when the customer has returned the items they don’t want. With retailers such as Zappos and marketplaces such as Zalando offering 100 days returns policies and free international returns, there is huge pressure on all brands and retailers to offer the most competitive returns policies. Over 75% of all consumers now consider the returns policy before making a purchase and nearly half consider the returns policy to be more important than price.

It is now vital for retailers to not only offer free returns in as many markets as possible, but also tightly control the costs associated with this, making it a seamless experience for the consumer and look to get returned goods back on the shelf as quick as possible.

In some recent research by Metapack, returns management ranked 4th in the list of 10 areas where retailers are investing most in innovation.

ZigZag has won a number of innovation awards. What makes ZigZag so innovative?

Yes, we are delighted to have won four awards for innovation in the last 18 months. There are some really interesting new retail technologies coming to market, but many fit into the ‘nice to have in the future’ rather than ‘must have in the present’ category.

Returns is a massive headache for retailers which impacts sales, marketing, customer services, logistics, inventory and supply chain not to mention the company’s brand and stance on sustainability & CSR. To date no one has managed to develop a solution that both reduces costs and waste associated with returns whilst significantly improving the customer experience. I  feel our innovation lies primarily in our ability to develop effective change across all areas of a retailer’s business without significant impact on the tech and change management front.

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