LYM was able to create an experience their customers love, while creating efficiencies their business operations love.
Previous returns solution
Love Your Melon started out selling beanies from a table outside of a St. Paul, MN restaurant, and giving cozy beanies to children fighting pediatric cancer in a one-for-one model.
Eight years later, Love Your Melon is a vibrant e-commerce company with an international presence, shipping high quality products to hundreds of thousands of consumers each year and donating millions to pediatric cancer charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Boston Children’s Hospital, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Maintaining that momentum requires streamlined, customer-friendly operations. In early 2018 Chief Operations Officer, Charlie Carlisle, realized LYM’s returns infrastructure wasn’t keeping pace with its growth. After checking out the alternatives, Carlisle chose Loop as the best match for LYM’s needs.
Initially attracted by Loop’s premium features and impressive client roster, including major apparel brands, Carlisle was quickly impressed by the company’s hands-on approach.
“We were first interested in Loop because of their client list,” Carlisle says. “But we have stayed because they are so responsive, and worked with us to drive changes that improved the customer experience, reduced our costs, and gave us data about why customers place returns.”
With Loop, Love Your Melon now points customers to a branded returns portal on their website to initiate a return. Using customized policies, LYM can ensure every return is handled correctly so that customers can easily initiate returns, exchange products, and print shipping labels.
“It’s allowed us to give our customers as friction-free an experience as possible,” Carlisle explains. “They get the information they need right away, and can easily complete an exchange or buy a new product. It’s a far better experience than just receiving a pre-printed label with your shipment and needing to wait until it’s returned to our warehouse to be processed.”
Going online to initiate returns also creates a subtle additional step. Instead of reflexively tossing a product back in the mail, customers are prompted to consider alternatives, such as whether they’d prefer a different size or color, or whether they’d like to exchange for a different product instead of receiving a refund.
“Many people when buying online make an impulse decision to return items,” Carlisle says. “With Loop, there’s just the right amount of consideration. Customers are encouraged to be more thoughtful about things and let us know why they are returning a product.”
Through the Loop experience, customers are encouraged to give meaningful feedback about their shopping experience, allowing Love Your Melon to find new ways to delight them in future.
When you handle a return using pre-printed labels, Carlisle explains, the only thing you know for sure is that your customer was somehow unsatisfied, but it is generally unclear why. Loop’s online portal, on the other hand, prompts customers to give quantitative and qualitative feedback, in formats that Love Your Melon can easily analyze to enact meaningful changes.
“Loop helps give our customers a voice, and lets us make improvements throughout the supply chain,” Carlisle says. “The reason our return rate is going down is in part because of the learnings that Loop enables us to get from each return we handle.”
Using Loop’s feedback system, customers pointed out that colors were not matching what they’d seen on the LYM website, prompting the company to review its product photography and implement new color-balancing procedures.
“If you look at the website we had in early 2018 versus where we are today, you’ll see a huge improvement in how we’re photographing and displaying products — and part of that is because of feedback from Loop,” Carlisle says.
Loop hasn’t just enabled operational improvements by unlocking new customer intelligence. It has also vastly simplified LYM’s process for handling incoming returns, reducing the amount of time employees have to spend handling returns.
During peak periods, processing returns would sometimes require the entire customer support team’s attention for hours at a time — but now Customer Service Director, Bernie Kolar, can handle everything himself.
For a seasonal business like Love Your Melon, which sees a surge in orders for its warm knitwear during chilly weather, that’s a big deal. Kolar has been able to focus on building out a core team of experienced employees capable of using Loop’s tools to adapt to the seasonal ebb and flow of business. Kolar explains. “It’s made us far more efficient from both an operational and a staffing perspective.”
“With Loop, our operating efficiency and case-handling time are now much better,” Carlisle adds. “The time we spend handling returns has gone down by roughly 4x.”
And because many customers are now choosing to exchange products instead of returning them, or are using Loop’s ShopNow feature to purchase alternate products, LYM has seen less refunds and more satisfied customers. In fact, once customers start shopping for exchanges, many wind up spending a little extra to get the products that they want.
Thanks to the new efficiencies and increased revenues it’s now achieving, Love Your Melon was able to give over $1 million to fight childhood cancer in 2019. The company is looking forward to generating more money to give to great nonprofits in the coming years.
“Loop has really helped us, as an e-commerce business, to continue to thrive and to accomplish our giveback goals,” Carlisle says. “Our company is ultimately in business to help fund the fight against pediatric cancer, and Loop helps us fulfill that purpose.”
That’s a reminder that an apparently small operational change can make a big difference. At Loop, we’re proud to be doing our part to support LYM’s important mission.