Al Gerrie, Co-founder and CEO, ZigZag

ZigZag Global: Enabling Returns Management Seamlessly

It doesn’t come as a surprise that eCommerce has become widespread globally. Every day, millions of products are bought and shipped, and consumers are spending more time browsing online than ever before. It’s essential for online retailers to keep track of their sales efficiently and effectively if they want to tap into this global demand. Yet despite the surge in online shopping, one part of the eCommerce journey still causes a pain point to many retailers — managing their online returns. ZigZag Global provides a SaaS platform to help eCommerce retailers manage returns both domestically and globally. The company understands the importance of strong communication in the returns process to retain loyal customers and grow sales revenue.

Al Gerrie, the Co-founder and CEO built ZigZag Global after 20 years of experience as a retailer. He knows the issues and challenges faced by retailers managing their online returns first-hand.

Mapping the Outline

ZigZag Global was founded in 2014. Since its inception, it has become a global leader in returns management, providing software solutions to help eCommerce retailers manage returns all aspects of the returns journey providing full transparency and data insights for global retailers.

The ZigZag platform connects retailers to a global network of 220 warehouses and more than 450 carrier services in over 130 countries — all from a single integration. The company uses predictive analytics to understand the most cost-effective and energy-efficient route to calculate if a retailer should hold and resell returned products in local markets or bring them back via consolidation.

ZigZag delivers the best technology and service to transform the returns experience globally. The mission is to reduce the cost, waste, and friction associated with returns, boost customer loyalty, and make retailers more profitable and sustainable.

Staying Ahead of the Competition

ZigZag’s online retailer-branded portal now allows users to exchange any item in the inventory they wish to return with another from the retailers’ catalogue. The platform will provide the customers with various appropriate replacement options, ranging from diverse colours and sizes, which the retailer has in stock. After the customer has selected their most convenient carrier service, the chosen exchange can be sent immediately following the first scan from the post office, drop-off location, or courier service collection.

It is estimated that around £600m worth of products bought over Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the UK was tied up in return loops by the middle of December, highlighting the issue of missed revenue by not having items in stock when needed. The dynamic exchanges functionality will directly target this issue. As ZigZag’s returns process is digitised, retailers can know what, when and where stock is coming back, and the platform can use this information to generate exchange options.

ZigZag is also developing a solution to promote customer retention by offering a refund to gift card option.

Returning to gift cards also has the added benefit of discouraging those online dine and dash fraudsters. It’s far harder to prove a customer has been intentionally fraudulent if they rarely use the same retailer twice. Returning to a gift card can allow you to offer a generous returns policy, keeping loyal customers happy while discouraging the individuals who try to take advantage of the online system for fraudulent gain.

The Good, The Bad, The Pandemic

2020 was undeniably a challenging year for physical retail worldwide, however the closure of stores gave online retail a massive boost.

Faced with unprecedented demand, online retailers may have struggled to cope initially, but those that expanded capacity reaped significant benefits — and will continue to do so. Those with a robust online presence and a strong reputation for delivering and fulfilling orders were naturally boosted by the flock of new customers from bricks and mortar to online.

Some significant trends became hugely popular during the lockdown, such as increasing sales in loungewear, sportswear and home study products.

“As a business, we encouraged all employees to work from home, giving them the tools and resources to do so seamlessly,” says Al Gerrie.

A Wave of Digitalisation

According to Al Gerrie the pandemic forced retailers to become more digitally capable and flexible to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations.

Many brands evolved over the last year, ramping up capabilities, offering personalised experiences and discounts, and providing more delivery options. Unsurprisingly, collect from home was a lot more popular. In fact, 87.5% of the UK population are now digital buyers (eMarketer), with 49% of consumers saying they shop online more now than ever before (Forbes).

As the effects of the pandemic continue to recede, it’s clear that the retail industry needs to continue to innovate. For retailers that were the kings of online pre-pandemic, other brands have started to make their mark. They must now continue to invest in digital and customer experience to stay ahead of the competition. Whether it’s personalisation, faster delivery promises, more straightforward returns, or augmented reality apps — the new level of eCommerce looks here to stay, and consumers will start to expect more.

Sustaining Nature in Energy Efficient Way

Sustainability has been at the heart of ZigZag’s business since its conception. The returns solution allows retailers to take a greener step forward from promoting the circular economy to reducing carbon emissions. The company partners with marketplaces worldwide to allow returning goods to quickly be resold in local markets, ensuring they take more energy-efficient routes back through the supply chain and keep them out of the landfill.

ZigZag’s paperless solution also removes the need for retailers to provide labels in the box in their outbound orders. Using an online paperless portal, such as ZigZag, ensures that consumers do not throw away unused return labels with satisfactory orders. Those who do need to return can instead use the paperless option, which prevents the need to print out big A4 sheets of paper at home, reducing paper wastage by around 60% for retailers.

In the Foreseeable future

In conclusion, Al Gerrie expresses that online returns will continue to dominate the landscape. eCommerce grew by around 50% over the last year, and that new level looks here to stay. Naturally, returns are an inevitability of shopping online as the bedroom takes on the role of the fitting room. The company’s recent Retail Returns Study 2021 found that 79% of people check the returns policy page before purchasing, with 42% abandoning their basket if they don’t like what they see. So, there will always be a need for a returns solution in the modern retail world as they continue to impact purchasing decisions.

ZigZag started in the UK and has spread its wings globally. The recent acquisition by Global Blue will continue to help the company grow internationally. A vast area for expansion will be the US. ZigZag already sees huge volumes coming through its platform from the US, and it has the potential to be its biggest market within the next few years.