How Swoon Partners with ClearCycle to Gain More Brand Control in the Secondary Market
At Swoon, home is an obsession and ever since launching in 2012 they’ve been tearing up the rulebook for furniture design.
They’re known for creating pieces with a distinctive style that owners will want to keep forever and because they sell direct to customers online, they can deliver high-end design at much lower prices.
Much like their furniture, Swoon’s business model is distinctive. They design each piece in-house and put its production out to tender, where everything is made in small batches or to order and this dramatically reduces waste.
“We run a very lean business model, and we only make things that people love,” Debbie Williamson, Swoon Co-Founder told us. “Each product begins life as a limited edition and only if it’s popular do we make more. Our core DNA is all about being lean, this is much better for the environment as fewer products end up in landfill.”
As a leading online furniture retailer with sustainability baked into it’s business model, Swoon is always looking to find new ways to improve how they manage their returns and reduce their impact on the environment.
Furniture retailers have always struggled with the challenge of how to take a returned product that only has superficial imperfections and elevate it with a simple fix to maximise their value on the secondary market.
As Dominic Moulding, Logistics Manager at Swoon explains, “We were spending a lot of time and a lot of resource managing our returns and had a whole team dedicated to it. We would inspect, grade and re-sell the items but for very little return.”
The Swoon team wanted to find a better solution for handling returns that would also help to support their sustainability efforts…and that’s where ClearCycle came in.
“We wanted to find a solution that would be more sustainable long term,” Dominic told us. “The partnership with ClearCycle made a lot more sense. It allowed us to focus on yield while reducing our costs.”
ClearCycle is a way to keep our products alive and loved for longer. We want people to keep our products forever and give them a second home whenever possible.
Dominic and the Swoon team had tried different ways of handling returns but the cost was too high and had proved difficult to scale up. However, once they began to fully implement ClearCycle’s data-driven returns management solution they quickly realised that it was a much better version of what they had been trying to achieve in-house.
“One of the key benefits was that there was very little work required from the Swoon side. It took a lot of work away from us, without a reduction in standards,” says Dominic. “ClearCycle gave us the ability to send our returned stock to their expert team for an initial inspection. Their team have years of experience and decide what condition the product is in, if it’s fixable and how we can maximise that for re-sale.”
This gave Dominic and the team much more confidence that Swoon products were being expertly checked, repaired if possible and explained correctly to the end user across ClearCycle’s online re-sale channels which gives them much greater control of the secondary market, whilst still maintaining yield.
“Another big plus for us was that the number of products that were beyond economic repair has fallen dramatically.” explained Dominic. “We are now disposing of considerably less product than before and much more product is being refurbed and re-sold. Our products aren’t going to landfill, they are going to be given a new life and will be loved by someone else.”
ClearCycle’s unique solution means that returned products are now received, refurbed and back on sale within 7 days (a much faster turnaround than before) and all re-sale items are ‘Approved by Swoon’ which provides greater protection over their brand online.
“ClearCycle is modernising the traditional returns model,” says Dominic. “They are creating a much more flexible and sustainable model that allows you to handle a much higher volume of returned stock. We didn’t get offered a ‘cookie-cutter’ solution, we were given a solution that was designed to evolve with our business model and help us achieve the best possible results.”
Day turnaround from product received to back on sale
Hours internal resource saved per week on returns management
Average resale percentage of original RRP
A partnership that initially began life as a secondary market sales platform has now evolved from a commercial partnership to an environmental partnership, comprising an end-to-end stock intake, grading, fault reporting and product refurbishment solution for Swoon.
“ClearCycle processing the stock end-to-end was when we could really see the true impact of their model and as result, we achieved significant cost savings for the business and a better outcome for the environment.”
With a huge reduction in the number of products going to landfill, Swoon has found a partner that can help to support the sustainability efforts which are so important to the brand.
“We only work with specialists that help us to do things well and try to build an eco-system of best-in-class partners – ClearCycle is an extension of that,” explained Debbie. “A returned product doesn’t always mean that a customer doesn’t like it, it may just not fit their space. ClearCycle gives that product a new life with someone else.”
We now have greater control of our brand as our returns are managed by one trusted partner across all re-sale channels. This gives us more control over what’s been sold, how it’s being marketed and our brand reputation. We want to recover as much value as we can and through ClearCycle we achieve this.
With a streamlined returns management process now in place, what next for Swoon and ClearCycle?
“We’re always looking to expand our sustainability efforts and we’re currently exploring the possibility of a Customer Buy Back Scheme,” says Dominic. “If a customer is moving to a new house or their requirements have changed then we would like to facilitate a way to buy our product back from them and sell it through our channels. When customers think about Swoon, we want them to think great design and sustainability and be something real, meaningful and that lasts and ClearCycle helps us to do that.”
Reduction in the number of touchpoints needed for returns management
Gained more control of the Swoon brand in the secondary market
Swoon products are being sold through an approved partner
Moving returns online opened the brand up to the biggest possible market