What does a retailer do when someone returns an item? Generally they ask for a receipt, but if the consumer is unable to produce the receipt then the retail store usually gives some sort of store credit like a gift card. But how does that retail store know that the individual who is returning the item is the same individual who purchased the item or received the gift? The answer is, they don’t. This scenario happens every day to the tune of $16 billion annually. Freeing Returns CEO Barbara Jones recently practiced their pitch at Pitch Practice.

Awkward and Unknown

Let’s explore both sides of the retail return transaction. If you actually bought the item, or received it as a gift, but you don’t have your receipt, chances are you’ll gladly accept store credit in the form of a Visa/Mastercard gift card. That’s not the issue. It’s when the individual making the return either has a receipt but doesn’t have the bank card used to purchase the item or doesn’t have a receipt and doesn’t want to accept anything but cash. Red flag.

What’s a retail store clerk to do? If properly trained, experienced, and mature, they can likely handle the situation with clear words about the store’s policy. But, no offense to those folks who are retail veterans and good at it, most retail clerks are not trained, experienced, and mature. So that conversation with someone who is seeking cash gets awkward pretty quickly. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but nobody wants to lose his or her job, either.

Telling a “customer” no is difficult, especially when they are in possession of the item to be returned.

What’s Missing?

If there’s no receipt or no credit card present, how can the store clerk know – for sure – that the individual returning the item is not attempting to commit fraud? They can’t. What’s missing is retail purchasing data: who purchased the item, when, and using what credit card? That’s what Freeing Returns provides. The founders are those retail veterans, and they saw and lived with this massive problem for years. Now they’ve decided to solve it.

Freeing Returns also just got a sweet write up in Hypepotamus. Check it out here.

 

What do you think about that?