Why The Databases Can

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2004-12-17 Print this article Print

’t Be Combined"> The next logical extension—which would have this database share all retail data with all of the chains so that a return abuser could be spotted across multiple chains—is something The Return Exchange has decided to avoid, at least for now. Every retailer gets their segregated database, Hammond said. “We silo the data for each retailer, just for themselves. The information is never in one database,” he said. “And we put around that database the rules and models of how to accept or reject a return that is unique to that retailer.”
If his company tried to let any retail client see information gleaned from other retailers about fraudulent behavior, his company would be subject to different and more invasive regulations, including some involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
With more businesses billing online and more customers paying online, the U.S. Post Office is taking quite a beating. To read how, click here. “It would involve a different sales (approach) and a different education,” Hammond said. “We felt that we didn’t need to do that. The ROI that we are providing is already so large that there is no need to share the data. We still catch the bad guys.” Hilinski refused to discuss pricing for retailers, maintaining that the pricing is too customized to be useful without a retailer’s specifics.But he did say that the pricing is typically done on a per-store/per-month charge basis and the pricing is often based on that chain’s return rate. That way, Hilinski said, his company can virtually guarantee a solid ROI because they typically see a return rate reduction of between four and six percent within the first 90 days.“We can show an ROI in 90 days in almost any retailer in any quarter,” Hammond said.The reasons for those reductions are many, ranging from honest customers seeking fewer returns because they want to avoid the identification hassles, thieves being discouraged from trying and the benefits of a more consistently-administered return policy. Faster returns help keep proactive customer service going. For the full story, click here. It’s more consistently administered because the database makes the decision for the store based on store rules, instead of having a clerk, associate or store manager making the decision.The customer has the right to appeal that decision and to review what the company thinks their shopping history is. The customer does that by calling The Return Exchange’s toll-free number.This process strongly contributes to what Hilinski refers to as the retail soft-dollar savings associated with Verify-1. By taking the discretion away from the store and putting it on a distant third-party, this “speeds up customer service lines” and “it takes the confrontation out of the store.”If the ultimate answer is “no,” the hope is that the retailer would seem to be less to blame than the third-party vendor, which is good news for the paying client retailer.Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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