Online orders were flowing into shoe e-retailer Schutz Shoes, the U.S. division of Brazilian-based shoe retailer Arezzo & Co., but the small team spent an increasing amount of time checking whether an order was fraudulent. When one employee on a staff of seven has to manually review the legitimacy of an online order, that’s time away from customers and other business, says Kimberly Gort, e-commerce manager for Schutz.
Schutz Shoes started selling online in 2014 operating its e-commerce site in the basement of its New York City store. That first year, Schutz had about $350,000 in online sales. In 2015, about half of its product catalog was available online and sales grew to $1.5 million. Now, with all of its products available online, Schutz Shoes projects about $3 million in online sales for 2016, Gort says. The retailer also opened a store in Los Angeles.
With triple-digit percentage growth comes growing pains. When the e-retailer received a modest five online orders a day, using the free tool from its e-commerce platform provider (Shopify Inc.) worked fine, Gort says. The plugin would flag orders that might be fraudulent, and the retailer decided to approve or decline such orders. For example, the tool flagged an order if the credit card and shipping addresses didn’t match, so a Schutz employee had to call the customer and determine if it was a legitimate order. Deciding what was and wasn’t fraudulent often was difficult, Gort says.
“There’s always a risk,” she says. “It was like we were playing roulette.”
The situation frustrated the retailer and the shopper, as some shoppers were blocked from placing an order or their order was delayed or they had to deal with a phone call from the retailer. Schutz was missing out on orders, devoting almost a full employee to manually check the orders and seek out consumers to verify information. As order volume and sales grew, the manual-review model no longer worked, Gort says.
In July, Schutz Shoes decided to integrate fraud detection software provider ClearSale onto its platform, choosing the vendor because it was used by parent company Arezzo. It took about two weeks to integrate the technology onto Schutz’s site, Gort says.
ClearSale factors in about 100 variables to approve or deny orders, and then has its 500-person team to dig deeper on flagged orders, says Rafael Lourenco, vice president of operations at ClearSale. Orders can be approved within three seconds, while an order that requires manual review will take 24-48 hours, he says.
The impact of adding ClearSale was almost immediate, Gort says, as Schutz Shoes was no longer on the hook to manually check flagged orders. The e-retailer now approves 94-96% of its orders, which is about a 5% increase from when it relied on its free plugin, Gort says.
ClearSale charges per transaction and takes a 0.4-1.5% cut of the sale. The commission is worth it, Gort says, as more sales are approved. In August, Schutz Shoes paid ClearSale $1,500. The retailer processed 1,200 online orders that month, 1,002 of which ClearSale reviewed in some capacity; of those 1,002 orders, 973 (97.1%) were approved.
ClearSale has about 2,000 clients, and more than 90% are retailers, Lourenco says. Across all of its clients, 93.5% of orders are automatically approved, Lourenco says.
Recently, ClearSale updated its formula with another variable to approve or deny orders. The feature factors in how long a consumer is on the website before she purchases. The shorter it is, the more suspect. However, this is only one variable and a short time between landing on the site and purchasing will not automatically flag an order, Lourenco says. The new feature increased ClearSale’s average approval rate by 1%, he says.