The days of “digital retail 1.0,” when customers could pick and choose among a disorganized collection of digital-native retail platforms accessible through various product categories’ websites, are over. Amazon was always a huge problem, but now it has surpassed its closest U.S. competition in terms of market share across all product categories.
This does not mean, however, that “Amazon ate everything.” More so than in the past, the internet marketplace is dispersed.
It’s not only that “brick-and-mortar first” stores like Best Buy and Walmart have recently resolved to take e-commerce seriously, which poses a threat to Amazon. It’s the fact that more unique online stores are popping up than in the past. The moment to start a business is now, thanks to sophisticated behind-the-scenes tools and increasingly predictive micro-targeting algorithms that put small merchants on par with larger ones.
With the correct equipment.
Sway, originally known as Returnmates, has the ability to revolutionize the way online retailers handle large volumes of returns and exchanges. Which, at this moment, is most internet retailers. An easy-to-understand but game-changing solution was developed after years of research and development in the field of online sales, as well as some painful consumer experience. This solution streamlines the digital supply chain, makes sales and fulfillment more efficient, and benefits both sellers and buyers.
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What Are the Biggest Pain Points for Online Sellers and Shoppers?
First, we need to figure out why the online shopping experience is flawed so we can grasp how Sway operates and why it excels at what it does.
Unfortunately, there is still an unacceptablely high percentage of “problem” sales, even while the vast majority of transactions proceed well (at least in comparison to customers’ low expectations). The outcome is bad news for consumers and merchants alike.
For Online Shoppers
Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a very fussy shopper. Because you are aware that tiny online retailers cannot control every aspect of the supply chain, you are patient and understanding when problems arise. If your order is delivered within a reasonable timeframe and the price is not higher than anticipated, then everything is OK with you.
Even with such modest expectations, you’ve likely had an online shopping experience in the last year that was disappointing. Maybe you’ve had one recently, maybe around a week or a month ago. There would be others.
There are several causes for these subpar experiences:
- Packaging for returns is a pain. Stores may believe their return packaging is straightforward, but consumers frequently have different experiences. It is crucial to do it correctly because it is one of the initial possible sites of friction during the return or exchange procedure.
- Return protocols cause confusion. You may return or exchange an item at almost any online store these days. However, there is a marked lack of uniformity in these policies. And that’s a major problem for those who frequent multiple stores. One of Sway’s main selling points is its built-in simplicity, and it’s not an accident.
- Exchange policies cause confusion. The point of sale becomes more problematic when the exchange policy is complex or ambiguous. Because they are unsure of when, if, and how to make exchanges (and naturally reluctant to throw away money), many customers either never buy what they intended to or shop elsewhere. By letting merchants provide upfront transparent and practical exchange procedures, Sway’s approach also takes care of this problem.
- Pickup locations have lengthy lines. The time it takes to drop off an exchange or return to a delivery provider is usually longer than desired, unless you’ve had incredibly lucky luck. This is particularly true if, as is frequently the case, the returns fell during the hectic holiday shipping season. This problem is what finally cemented the idea that Sway’s co-founders, Eric Wimer and Kristian Zak, were onto something.
- Delays in shipment following drop-off. Once you’ve descended, the real fun begins. An outside shipping company handles processing and returns to the retailer’s warehouse for the customer’s order. Hopefully, that’s the case. Delays caused by weather, equipment failures, or misunderstandings are just a few of the many potential obstacles.
For Online Sellers
The current situation is even worse for vendors than it is for buyers. When your very survival depends on it, the stakes are absolutely enormous. The reputation and expansion prospects of an online shop can be severely damaged by as little as a handful of negative reviews.
A number of things might go wrong when you’re trying to return or exchange an item. Customers may have unsatisfactory experiences due to any of the aforementioned consumer pain factors. Even more directly, other concerns impact retailers:
- Carts left behind because customers were unsure about the return and exchange policies. Zak and Wimer, co-founders of Sway, were aware that merchants are just as affected by unclear return and exchange policies as customers are. In the end, consumers may find a postponed purchase unpleasant, but it won’t be a major issue for them. A pattern of postponed purchases, along with public grievances regarding return and exchange procedures, can pose an existential threat to shops.
- Issues with third-party logistical partners. Many online stores rely heavily on their third-party logistical providers. Not everyone returns the favor. Even in a perfect world, customers could care less about the return process as long as they receive their money back. Shipping services have been seen as mere commodities up until recently, as Wimer argues. On the other hand, Sway “provide[s] brands an opportunity to delight their shoppers with each delivery and return, keeping brands closer to their customers.”
- Exorbitant packing and fuel costs. Fuel, packing, labor, and time are all used by return and exchange policies that are generous. Retailers and logistics providers have the power to significantly improve upon the inevitable waste that occurs along the supply chain. Lean merchants can save money and lessen their impact on the environment with Sway’s streamlined return and exchange process, which lets customers stay in their homes throughout.
- The practice of fraudulently accepting returns or replacing items. The prevalence of outright fraud in the realm of online retail is alarming. The annual cost to retailers is already in the tens of billions, and it’s only going up as AI becomes better and more prevalent. Reduce the attack surface for e-commerce fraudsters and boost retailer confidence in the identity of their “customers” with Sway’s solution, which includes verified in-person pickup and a high-tech, responsive, near-real-time chain of custody.
How Sway Improves the Digital Retail Experience (On Both Sides)
Online retailers can use Sway as a last-mile option. Its unique technology streamlines the delivery and pickup of goods at clients’ homes and places of business by connecting a network of independent logistics experts. The two-way relationship that is established between retailers and customers is symbolized by the word Sway.
“Sway is fixing the decades-old returns problem…with a business model that actually makes sense,” said Jack Leeney, co-founder and managing partner of 7GC. Leeney led Sway’s most recent investment round, which raised over $20 million for the growing company.
“Merchants reduce leakage, and customers purchase more with a truly seamless two-way supply chain,” says Leeney, who also provides a concise summary of Sway’s value proposition.
Sway’s worth extends well beyond its seeming ease and speed. Brands can reimagine their relationships with customers and generate massive amounts of loyalty with the help of responsive software that modernizes third-party logistics.
“When you maintain an open channel with the shopper, deliver their package seamlessly, and pick up their return if it doesn’t work out, you redefine the shopper’s relationship with the brand,” Wimer adds.
Sway itself is lauded by that. The app’s Net Promoter Score is 75 out of 100 and its customer satisfaction score is 4.9 out of 5, both measured on a scale from -100 to 100. According to both pieces of evidence, Sway has a very good recommendation rate among both customers and delivery partners.
There is also positive qualitative feedback. According to one customer, Sway is a great substitute for other top logistics companies. In contrast to “traditional” logistics apps, this one boasts real-time SMS capabilities, which another user gushes about. Three people have commented on how the Sway-enabled return process is “the quickest and easiest ever.”
Sway distinguishes itself and the businesses who use it at every stage of the value chain. Key pieces of information consist of:
- 99% on-time delivery rate is significantly higher than the average in the industry
20% save on shipping
- Total cycle time dropped from seven to ten days to less than two days, a reduction of 75 percent.
- 66% decrease in misplaced shipments
- An uptick of 20% in customer loyalty
Is Sway the Future of Online Shopping and Selling?
When it comes to retail technology, Sway is a top story of the year. Zak and Wimer, co-founders, intend to ramp up their efforts in the next months as they distribute their solution nationwide. Operating in nearly 30 locations across Virginia, Washington State, California, Florida, New York, Maryland, and Texas, Sway’s presence has the potential to soon double or perhaps triple in size, barring any unforeseen issues with the launch.
Would it be an overstatement to claim that Sway represents the future of e-commerce? Several genuine and annoying problems faced by both buyers and sellers can be effectively addressed with this attractive solution.
Execution, however, will determine Sway’s progress, as it has with every previous retail IT solution. There is no limit to what Zak and Wimer may achieve with their app. We should expect to hear more about Sway soon enough, since industry experts are betting that will be the case.