For our series ‘From Factory to Trees', we interview several of our partners in the packaging chain. This time we had the pleasure to interview Olivier Muller, CEO at Returnista.
Returnista is a returns management platform that helps customers to get the most out of the returns process. It reduces emissions and pollution from returns, while increasing the profitability and customer loyalty. A smarter return process that is good for people as for the environment.
Can you tell us something about yourself and Returnista? How did it start and what is your role in the company?
The reason that my brother Quinten and I decided to set up Returnista was because we noticed that online shopping became an increasing global trend. Although in that journey many things were taken care of in a very smart and customer friendly way, the returns process seemed broken. This was a big frustration for both consumers and online merchants, so that is why we decided to dive deeper into the world of returns. Hence, the result is Returnista.
As CEO at Returnista, I am responsible for the overall performance of the business, the formulation of a strategic plan and the execution of the strategy. For me, as we are a young company, this means I am thinking about the future of business as well as simultaneously getting my hands dirty.
Returnista is a supplier of solutions for the retail sector. Over the last 2 years, Corona has obviously changed this sector. What have you noticed?
During the pandemic the shift towards shopping online accelerated dramatically, which means that offering the right returns solution is even more important.
At ZeroPackaging, sustainability is the main focus. What’s Returnista's vision regarding sustainability?
At Returnista, we are on a mission to zero returns. By using data, we try to prevent as many returns as possible from occurring. Additionally, for every return that does occur, we try to get the right product in the hands of the customer (by offering exchange options and product recommendations). In other words, sustainability is the core of our existence.
Can you describe a project in which you have been involved with sustainability?
Our data shows that merchants that use Returnista’s software experience a decrease in returns of about 3-12%, depending on product category and geography. For every return that is prevented, the customer journey, profitability and most importantly the environment will benefit.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about sustainability in the retail sector?
I believe that there are three considerable misconceptions regarding sustainability. The first is the idea that clothing can be recycled into new apparel. This is still not the case, at least not efficiently. The second misconception is that donating clothing to charity will benefit communities in low income countries. The opposite is actually true, as the donation of clothing cripples the local economy. Lastly, overstock platforms such as online outlet stores are believed
to be a method for a reduction in the production of apparel. Unfortunately, again the opposite is true.
Which current technology or trend do you think has the most positive impact on long-term sustainability?
There are three trends and technologies which I believe to have the most positive impact on long-term sustainability. The first is the mass customisation of products, which limits production to only what is really needed. Second, the understanding of why products are being returned on a product and consumer level will also positively impact sustainability. And lastly, the world needs to move away from low-quality products.
What do you think the world will look like 10 years from now when it comes to sustainability? And what do you hope it will look like?
I believe that ten years from now online shopping has evolved from a two to three dimensional experience, helping consumers to better understand the product they are purchasing. This added information will lead to fewer returns and a deeper understanding of consumer buying patterns, which in turn help improve procurement efficiency. In short, in ten years there will be less production as it is more on target.
What is Returnista’s role in this?
Returnista will be a key-player in the early identification of consumer purchasing behaviour, eradicating high return rates.