Press release: E-commerce scaleup Returnista aims for worldwide success by turning returns into opportunities

Press release: E-commerce scaleup Returnista aims for worldwide success by turning returns into opportunities
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October 19, 2022
The Returnista Post
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Online shopping is becoming the default way of purchasing items. But many of the products sent to customers also get sent back, with businesses footing the bill. Sounds like a problem? Not if it is up to Returnista.

The Amsterdam-based scaleup, founded by the brothers Quinten and Olivier Muller, tries to turn a retailer’s challenge into an opportunity.

‘Be better’

Olivier and Quinten Muller founded Returnista in 2017 out of personal frustration. Their online purchases were sometimes not quite what they expected. They’d buy shoes that wouldn’t fit as comfortably as they hoped or shirts that didn’t look as good as expected. Then, whenever they’d return products to the post agency, it would leave them with a nagging idea that ‘it could be so much better’. Not just for them, but also for the retailers themselves.

It takes an ambitious entrepreneur to turn that idea into a business. With Returnista, the brothers take away several pain points while returning an online purchase. At the same time, they offer retailers opportunities to turn a return into an exchange, thus not losing an already made sale.

Increasing customer loyalty

“We aim to increase the number of exchanges,” says Quinten Muller. “And in the same process, increase customer loyalty.” They’ve implemented several intelligent ways to ensure a return is an opportunity for retailers. For instance, they’ve devised a return process that facilitates exchanges based on what’s in stock at that moment.

According to Returnista, this turns 40 per cent of the returns into an exchange, meaning a retailer won’t lose that sale. Retailers are also provided with advanced insights on their returns, offering them unprecedented control over the return process and allowing them to reduce the number of products sent back.

Fewer returns, less emissions

Besides making it easier for customers and retailers, Returnista also helps organisations reach their sustainability goals. For example, reducing the number of returns saves emissions during shipping. At the same time, Returnista compensates for CO2 emissions, while customers can go through the process without wasting any paper and ink on return labels.

With online purchasing surging during the first years of COVID, Returnista grew rapidly. “We quickly went from a handful of customers to well over 1,000 companies using our service,” says Muller.

International expansion is their current objective. So they made sure their product integrates seamlessly with popular e-commerce solutions such as Shopify or Lightspeed, financial services like Paypal and Buckaroo, and the infrastructure of many transporters like DHL, UPS, DPD and GLS.

Global product

“Companies can now onboard themselves,” Muller explains. “That way, we want to grow into a global product. We have had boots on the ground in several countries since this year in the form of local sales and support teams. So for us expanding all over the world is as easy as making sure our product is available.”

Muller makes it sound like easy work. But it is not without its challenges. As with many rapidly growing organisations, finding the right people proves to be a struggle. “Finding the right talent in other countries is challenging. The same goes for scaling up our teams while maintaining the company culture that’s selling our product. But it is a luxury problem. We’re facing these challenges simply because we’re doing so well.”

‘Most beloved return platform’

For Muller, that means every day he’s learning on the job. “We need to find many people rapidly. I’m getting better at it, mainly by discussing the matter with different people. Sometimes I make the right choices, and sometimes I don’t. And if I don’t, the next step up for the company will come a bit later,” is his sober conclusion.

The fact is, Muller and Returnista keep stepping up. The goal is, says Muller, to become the most beloved return platform in the world. “We want to make every return into an exchange.”

Joining Rise by Technleap.nl

To achieve their goal, Muller recognises it is essential to connect with the right people. Getting selected for the Rise programme by Techleap.nl offered them exactly that opportunity. The programme allows Dutch scaleups to connect with peers and learn from seasoned experts.

“It was precious to gain new insights and become a better entrepreneur over those several weeks. To discuss your business with other entrepreneurs was very valuable,” Muller says about Rise by Techleap.nl. “It taught us more about the importance of measuring performance. To know more about what we’re doing and where we are going. It means we need more focus on our goals for this business.”

For Muller, the programme again underscored the importance of connecting with others as an entrepreneur. If there were any advice he’d give his younger self, it would be to reach out to people who are further in their careers. “But who knows, maybe we’ve reached this point exactly because we didn’t do that. So it feels like we’re always operating at the intersection of gaining traction and involving the best people.”

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