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Who returns stuff they didn’t even buy?

It’s pretty common knowledge that in the retail industry, inventory walks away. They call it “shrinkage”, and every store builds in a number into their financials to cover employee theft and shoplifting. However, there’s another way that retail stores take it in the teeth: fraudulent returns. A fraudulent return occurs when an individual returns something to a store for cash credit when that individual did not purchase the product in the first place. They may or may not have stolen the item, but they don’t have a receipt.

Who is the entrepreneur?

Barbara Jones is the founder and CEO of Freeing Returns. She didn’t tell us this, but she has a long career in big brand retail. That little tidbit of knowledge would give her instant credibility. We would know that she has the experience to understand the problem and how to attack it.

What is the problem?

Merchandise returns fraud in the retail industry. Sixteen Billion dollars is a pretty big problem. If she can reduce that by any fraction for any store or chain, that’s a big win. I would add here that she could have given us some context for how the fraudsters get away with it currently. She had plenty of time in her pitch to offer up a short story.

What is the solution?

That’s the best part! We don’t know how she’s going to do it. So, naturally, our big question is, “How are you going to do that??” Since the one and only goal of the elevator pitch is to get the next meeting, Barbara wins. She just got the next meeting because we all want to know HOW she’s going to solve the problem.

Who is the customer?

Retailers. Doesn’t get any easier than that. Retailers have this problem. They know they have this problem. If Barbara can execute on her solution, then her initial target audience just needs to be narrowed down based on size and location.

What is the ask?

She asked for a mid-market retailer that would be a good candidate to pilot her solution. Clear as can be.

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