Aviator Nation kept its stores open during the pandemic. At the time, the retailer’s return process required store employees to process each return, exchange or refund manually, says Matthew Solusod, CX operations manager.
“This was a problem for us because it took a lot of time,” Solusod says. “It took one or more employees away [to process returns or exchanges] during a time when we had to focus on our online sales channel.”
Aviator Nation’s return rates were on the rise between 2019 and 2020. The 1970s-inspired leisure wear retailer turned to Loop Returns, a returns services vendor. Aviator Nation processed its first return with Loop Returns in April 2021. By 2022, the retailer’s return rate dropped below 12%. It also offered bonus credits (by percentage) and in-store credit incentives to help encourage sales, according to Loop Returns.
After implementing Loop, Aviator Nation’s retained customer lifetime revenue is 63% for existing customers, Solusod says.
From April 2021-2023, the average upsell per return was $11.99. For every return an Aviator Nation customer submits, Aviator Nation earns $11.99 in new revenue.
From April 2021-November 2022, refunds decreased 11% and Aviator Nation retained 56.6% of revenue from returns. The average upsell per return during this period is $10.51.
“I think that’s about a third or half of what [the refund rate] was before,” Solusod says.
Aviator Nation uses ecommerce platform Shopify to run its website. Loop Returns integrates with Shopify.
“[Employees] can be more proactive rather than reactive. They are not spending time on menial tasks like manually processing returns,” Solusod says.
For example, if an item is out of stock, Aviator Nation employees can proactively reach out to customers to let them know and present other options, he says.
Aviator Nation leverages store inventory for online orders
In late 2022, Aviator Nation launched its omnichannel fulfillment option. Aviator Nation has 17 stores throughout the U.S. in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Texas, and Tennessee.
“Now we’re able to unlock all our retail locations and inventory. It gives a lot more availability for people shopping on the website,” Solusod says. “This also means we’re churning through inventory of stores quicker. We have a lot more inventory available for people shopping on the website.”
The retailer plans to launch buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) in 2023.
“That way, rather than having to wait for something to ship, you can just pop into a store and pick it up,” he says.
Solusod says each store’s inventory is available to fulfill online orders. Fulfilling online orders in store saves shipping costs, he says.
“If a customer near the Miami [store] location places an order, we can have Miami store fulfill that item. That saves us some cost,” Solusod says. “I think it also makes for a better experience. The customer can oftentimes get their item faster with the BOPIS option we’re rolling in.”
Aviator Nation’s mobile customers
The majority of Aviator Nation shoppers shop using their mobile devices, Solusod says. The retailer launched its own app in 2022.
“The app has been really successful,” he says. He did not share what portion of conversions come through the mobile app, but he says about 70% of online shoppers are converting through their mobile devices.
Aviator Nation’s production and fulfillment centers are both located in California in the fashion/garment district of Los Angeles. The retailer sources its materials within the U.S.
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