Supply Chain Now Episode 289

Live Interview from the RLA Conference & Expo 

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Scott and Greg as they welcome Caitlin Roberson with Happy Returns to the Supply Chain Now booth at the RLA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

On this episode of Supply Chain Now broadcast live from the RLA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Scott and Greg interview Caitlin Roberson, VP of Marketing with Happy Returns.

[00:00:05] It’s time for Supply Chain Now Radio. Broadcasting live from the Supply chain capital of the country, Atlanta, Georgia. Supply Chain Now Radio spotlights the best in all things supply chain the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.


[00:00:29] Hey, good morning, Scott Luton. Back with you here once again live on Supply chain.


[00:00:33] Now, welcome back to the show. On today’s show, we’re not broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia. We’re here in Las Vegas, which is the center of the universe for the returns and reverse Logistics market industry space, you name it, the reverse Logistics Association Conference and Expo. We are continuing our live coverage of this gathering of supply chain and business thought leaders that are helping solve the challenges in the returns and reverse Logistics space. So today’s episode really important to Sheer with He is brought to you by Recog Murse re commerce group. Industries is an industry leader in a variety of things return product management, return center services, remanufacturing reprocessing, repairing and recycling of consumer products.


[00:01:18] All all the reas, all the reas and an all time high.


[00:01:23] All really important services in today’s circular economy. Companies are are looking for good partners that can help in all those areas. So learn more at RE Commerce Group AEK dot com. Quick programing note. Like all of our podcasts, you can find a set up on Apple podcast on Spotify. Really wherever else you get your podcast from, including YouTube. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything. So as you’ve already heard him, we cannot be contained. Let’s welcome in my fearless co-host, serial supply chain tech entrepreneur, chronic disruptor, trusted advisor, Mr. Greg White Greg.


[00:02:00] Hey, don’t cage the Tigers. Scott. What? We’ve had a blast here. All right. This is day.


[00:02:08] This is interview two of day one. Right? We are knocked out seven interviews all day zero.


[00:02:13] We’re so ambitious. We work on day 0. Right. While everyone else was party in. Yes. Gambling, gambling again. And shows congratulating themselves for winning the Super Bowl. Go, chiefs. And while the parade is building in Kansas City, here we are. Yes, in Las Vegas. Interviewed the best of the best. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Reverse Logistics and sprinting. And more on the ladder. May maybe.


[00:02:41] Yeah. And later, an interview. All right. So we’re sitting here with Caitlin Robertson, V.P. of marketing with Happy Returns. Caitlin, how you doing? I’m doing great, Scott. Great to have you here. Thank you. You know, we have been paying back and forth for four months now with you and your firm. Daryl had a fascinating journey growing quite a bit as we look forward to darvin more into what Happy Returns does and is doing. But before we get there, let’s talk about who you are as the person. So where did you grow up in and give us the skinny on on some your upbringing?


[00:03:13] Yeah. So first off, three kids. I was born during medical school. u._n._c Chapel Hill. My mom’s in the Bahamas. Dad’s from from North Carolina. And I grew up there. And then also in California. OK. The Bay Area.


[00:03:28] Your dad’s from what? Know what town in North Carolina? Yes, Asheville. Asheville, a great town. Great town stuff. Family there.


[00:03:35] So you’re mountain tribe and and a beach tribe. All kinds of. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great X. So at home anywhere. So yeah.


[00:03:45] Growing up with with East Coast and West Coast Family Dynamics. Give us Woody Allen. Would you love to spend your time.


[00:03:53] I I loved to read. My favorite time of day actually was when we all piled in bed right before bed. And my mom would read his books, which got to pick two. And there were three of us.


[00:04:03] She read six books every night. You went to bed? I’ve. I did not think that was weird until I got older. That’s a lot of hop on. Right. Right. That’s it’s a lot of work. Yeah. It’s a lot. A lot of Dr. Seuss book.


[00:04:16] A great read. A great parent. A great mom, though, that that that books, of course, plays such a big role in kind of figuring out what your passion is in life. Right. All right. So before we dove more into happy returns with Greg here. Any, you know, early role models or early experiences that kind of shaped how your your professional journey would take place.


[00:04:39] Sure. Yeah. So one, there were many. But one comes to mind as it relates to my career in particular. I was in college. I majored in English and Spanish, which is another way of saying that I loved awards and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And I heard the founder of a nonprofit speaking and he was talking about what is on. It was doing they. Long story short, I went overseas to rescue victims of different kinds of oppression from things like sexual slavery or land seizure, so on. And I was really struck with his ability to tell a story. And so I actually had my first internship after college there. And it was a PR comms related internship. And I think it that the insight that I was able to gain at that organization and through kind of just his power of storytelling with how much that can motivate people to do different things. Now, obviously do something kind of different today. But what I’ve always been fascinated by is like how can you communicate something that matters?


[00:05:38] To get someone to do something differently. I love it. That’s Maureen, obviously, as a marketing thought leader. Right. We’re big believers in the power of storytelling. And then play it, folks are a lot of people lose that.


[00:05:52] Right. They want to they want to pitch. Right. And and marketing is more about the storytelling. Yeah. Than it is about pitching.


[00:06:00] Yeah. Especially get people take action. Yeah. You’re talk you’re talking about. But you know, we were on a recent episode came. It was we were we were talking about some of the companies that really get it right. Publix and Apple are the two first companies that came to mind, you know, Publix every time around holidays. Some of the stories of the families come together and then parents try to reconnect with kids. And, you know, they don’t talk. They don’t focus on any their products. But you feel like you want to go to Publix after that commercial ran out Apple. I mean, see. And of course, Google during the Super Bowl, that Super Bowl commercial. And they did a good job this year. Yeah. High on day two and loved it. I missed that one. What?


[00:06:44] It’s I’m blanking on the actress name from the office. And it was where he was like in the car and pushed the button. And it automatically parks and it automatically comes out of a parking spot. Yeah. That’s right. That’s blanking on its name.


[00:06:55] Yeah. The new. Oh my gosh. That’s embarrassing. Is Jim from the office? Here we go. We’re mouth. Malcolm is trying to clue. I can’t read lips.


[00:07:05] Well, he plays he’s got to Amazon series. Yes. Tom Clancy. Yeah. So we’ll try to do now. Yeah. By the power of storytelling. Clearly is ever more. It is arguably never been more relevant, especially when we’re getting thrown so much information at us from a wide variety of channels. So, Greg, I know you got some questions around happy returns and Caitlin’s team.


[00:07:27] Yeah. So interested in what you know, where you all fall in in reverse Logistics and supply chain in general. But I think it’s important for our listeners to understand what what is the problem, what are the key words or what is the problem or pain they’re feeling that makes them reach out to happy returns? And then what do you do to kind of.


[00:07:50] Yeah. Well, so I think there’s there’s two different ways I would answer you. One is the problem of what they’re aware of. And then I think there’s other tangential problems that they may not know and we could help them solve. But I’ll put it this way. So products that are bottom line, one out of every two of them are returned and that is a one out of every two up top up to one of them out of every two. Yeah. And that’s specific to a peril. Sometimes it’s it’s less different kinds of products. But what that means essentially because consumers today expect shipping to be free and they tend to return boxes individually by mail. Is that companies are essentially paying for people to buy their products and then paying people to send them back. So they’re losing money. Like just put it this way. Let’s say that someone the company spends one hundred dollars selling product and then 50 dollars of it is returned. That’s a that’s a good that’s a big loss.


[00:08:43] So you define, as you might imagine, at the reverse. Logistics Association event returns has been, you know, part of re upset. It seems like there’s consensus that consumers are starting to connect to connect the dots more and more about. Yeah, it’s convenient. It is part of the e-commerce air. The ability return things, but it seems like more and more consumers start and figure out kind of the the strain that puts on sustainability initiatives and whatnot. Is it do you feel that same way?


[00:09:14] One hundred percent. And that’s actually that gets to kind of the tangential issues. I think business leaders today are tasked with a new problem that you I often refer to as the triple bottom line. So how do you take care of your business at the same time, your business profitability, right. At the same time that you take care of your shopper at the same rate, take care of the world. And the way that returns are currently handled today impact all of those in a negative sense. And so by partnering with us are our retailers and revolve Overlain Roth is there doing things differently. And they’re showing that companies, if they have a different approach, they can re-imagine how their business functions.


[00:09:52] I think that’s a really important recognition of retailers today is their role in the supply chain and how they. PAX Sustainability I don’t think companies have always been aware of. I know that, yes, I’ve been in retail. But I know they have not been always been aware of that. And I think how you do business and who you do business with is a really important growth for a lot of the retailers. It’s arguably one of the last frontiers of e-commerce. M Yeah.


[00:10:19] Sorry, I’m next, Ana.


[00:10:25] So tell us a little bit about. So you obviously you’ve got great storytelling skills and you guys have a great story to tell. Happy Returns would tell us a little bit about what’s a day in the life of Julia Roberts.


[00:10:37] Sheer that’s a great question. Well, I am about four months into the job. So a lot of it involves Googling terms that I’m understanding for the first time because I’m new to retail.


[00:10:46] That’s right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We used to go to the library.


[00:10:52] It’s true. You know what? A library. I heard of it. Yeah. Oh, I think they would just love to explore. I know. Warned they think before. Not to date myself.


[00:11:02] So I think the first four months or so of the job have been obviously around building a team. But mostly when things are being done differently in an industry as they are being done in retail around returns, there’s often a mindset that needs to shift. And typically that mindset involves companies or the industry innovators seeing an opportunity where there’s previously been a challenge. So I spent a lot of my first couple months figuring out just sitting with different members of the team and with our customers and our partners to understand how they view the world and how they view returns. And then getting to the point where I can confidently say that returns are an opportunity for businesses, whether it’s to generate exchanges so they retain revenue, whether it’s to reduce their shipping costs, whether it’s to improve customer’s experience, Ryder or enhance sustainability. So a lot of listening up front. We’re also building marketing infrastructure to make sure that when companies come to our Web site, we get them to salespeople and understand and learn. You were dealing with that right before you came here. Right. We were reviewing Web sites. Yeah. Well, actually, there are two. We’re splitting up. How’s it going? I will find out when it goes live.


[00:12:11] So true tomorrow. You kind of have to go. Love to see how it’s going. Right. Yeah. Right. You have to pass the bill before you get Ryder. Right. You know what?


[00:12:23] You know. We skipped over a little bit. I think it’s important for the for the rest of the context. A lot of what you’re sharing is prior to happy returns. Yeah. What? How did you form your marketing world view over some your previous roles?


[00:12:38] Great question. So the first call it five years or so, I did PR and executive fundraising at a nonprofit which shaped my view of storytelling because it grounded it really in like an emotional human element, which is very important. And it also grounded me in needing to find third party statistics, kind of backup the trends that we were talking about. Then by chance, I got into enterprise software and was a ghostwriter for a couple of really well-known enterprise Southwire companies and grew an agency for the next five years after that.


[00:13:11] We worked with LinkedIn and Google and Marchetta, which was Oracle’s biggest acquisition. And a couple others that really exposed me to how you can tell an emotional story for a very boring segment of the world.


[00:13:25] Welcome to Supply chain SEUS. Actually, I didn’t even know this level of writing existed.


[00:13:31] And we had twenty five clients, fifteen, fifteen employees. And so got to work with a lot of different hypergrowth SAS companies. So that worked in venture capital for a couple of years and a Tier 1 venture capital firm. And so that really shaped my view of storytelling to kind of see best practices. And I think my main insight from that was watching how much of founders vision really means to shape storytelling like people leave golden handcuff jobs to go take risks on founders visions. And that’s really that story comforting at loss as a company scales or as a product suite gets developed. And so I guess what I think about now is really that the synergy between those two, the wrapping up real quick venture capital and then I worked at the B2B startup inside of Lyft called Lyft Business Pre and post IPO and grew the marketing team and the brand content.


[00:14:29] And imagine Mark. Wow. As a diverse. Yeah. You you benefit from all those diverse sectors and industries. Well, the different points of view as well and different a lot of different ran on industry.


[00:14:43] And I think the thread is I’m really drawn to founders that I resonate with, which is why am I happy returns. And then the other thing is I’m really drawn to challenges that can be turned around into opportunities through thought, leadership and marketing. And I actually really enjoy it when I don’t know a lot about the industry at first, because it gives me the psychological comfort to ask the dumb questions and maybe like understand an issue as a layperson might.


[00:15:08] Yes, I’m so important that asking the dumb questions we supply chain supply chain where we love our acronyms, we love how we talk about spending all my googling. Yeah.


[00:15:17] And you know, that’s a YouTube and googling or like today’s functional diagonals, right? We all use it.


[00:15:25] I get you back something. You were encyclopaedias. Yes. All right. Yeah. Funking, I was gonna pretend like I knew. Yeah. Fucking you. What was the other kind? Britannic tannic shenanigans that I know. So you picked the most obscure of an obsolete genre of product. What what does. Last episode. Who was. Who did you say? What was that analogy? Have it. So let’s just ask Caitlin if she knows that’s a good gladis. Say it. Gladys Kravitz heard the name once. Nosy neighbor on Bewitched. The original bewitch from the 60s that you have to watch on Nick at night. Know, but I watched the replays. Ask how he wove that into the episode. I don’t remember how I wove it into the air. Said it was something.


[00:16:09] Well, the modern day version of GLADD blockchain was a lot of logging. Verusen. Yeah, that’s right. Right. Always watching. Yeah, that’s blockchain. All right. So back to I want one quick comment before Greg can dove deep with happy returns. We just talked about kind of tongue in cheek supply chains, boring. We just kicked off a series called Supply chain is boring coin very tongue and cheek sarcastically calls. Supply chain is not what it was not even 10 years ago. Right. And there’s some reasons why we’ve got to get the word out, because the industry is fighting for the top talent unlike ever before. And we got a seat at the table. Yes. Tavor But that’s our modern business happening. It never has had a seat at the table from it. There’s a reason why you’re seeing Chief Supply chain officer positions created more and more because that’s what can you get done these days.


[00:17:05] Even in this digital world, Apple’s CEO is their X cheese chief supply chain. Yes, sir. I mean, I can’t see a would have ever thought. First of all, that a title like that would ever exist because it’s four letters, not three, like all the other C-suite positions. So we’ve got to do something about that.


[00:17:20] So Chris Barnes, the first episode sat down with.


[00:17:23] Dr. Ben Kandinsky. Yeah, from from Emory University. Big time. Supply chain guru. Yeah. So we’re gonna see. Yeah, I know, Ben, and I know that he’s not boring. So I think it’ll really be interesting if if Chris can draw the boring out of bed.


[00:17:40] Yes. What’s been it’s been what we’re seeing thus far. So it is the irony of Jenny boring. So that’s Gamby Citigroups. So I love how that’s how weird that. Yes.


[00:17:49] How really matching a naive audience. Right. I mean, you alluded to it before. You have the blessing of what I call the blessing of naivete, because either through lack of knowledge or clear knowledge or lack of attention, which is where most of anyone, any company’s prospects are. You have to speak to them in kind of dumbed down terms. Yeah. And it’s really helpful to do so because then they get you. And that’s another thing that makes storytelling so impactful is because it resonates with people. They’re like, oh, I get right how that works. Right. So that’s a great insight.


[00:18:24] It is kindred spirits here. We fit right in. So, Greg, let’s talk more about happy returns. Let’s do talk more about it.


[00:18:34] So so we talked a little bit about, you know, what what is going through people’s heads when they’re you know, when they discover they have a need, when somebody walks in your virtual door and says, hey, I need help. Yeah. What’s the pain? I mean. What are they? What do they think? You mentioned that they might think they’re solving one thing and there are a lot of other things they can solve, but what really draws them to you? I guess what we’re trying to understand is if somebody is out there going, do I need what? What Happy Returns does and what hurts them the most right now? Is it that margin loss that you were talking about?


[00:19:10] So I think what they’re aware of is the number of returns they’re getting and how much it costs. OK. Generally, though, it’s that elephant that people want to sweep under the rug because returns are something that everybody hates.


[00:19:23] I think the look on the industry side. Mean, I don’t enjoy it. Yeah, I guess. Yeah. Good point. Yeah.


[00:19:31] Yeah. In terms of why they’re excited to work with us. I think a lot of it is related to that, which is we’re the only provider that provides software and reverse Logistics. So from the moment that a shopper gets on your Web site, every tellers web site and says I want to return or exchange this all the way to when they ship it back, drop it off at a store and then it’s sent to a hub and processed. Most vendors offer silo’s solution. Yeah. And so this is a way for someone to kind of get returns off their plate and have more time to focus on why they might actually be in retail. Interesting.


[00:20:08] So you’re the inverse of a fulfillment facility, whatever that is, a return permit facility. Right. I mean, you know, I mean, there are companies out there and they’ve existed for a while. eBay Enterprises and of course, Amazon does that. And lots of other companies. Where? Shopify. Yeah. Where you just click the button. And from that point on, it’s handled. But you’re doing the same on the reverse logistics side, aren’t you. Just click the return button and you guys have it from there. That’s great.


[00:20:37] Yeah. I think you know, especially due to see brands like you think about Birkenstock and recently Nike and all these other brands that are leaving Amazon, you know, they’re starting to think about how they can go toe to toe with Amazon. Jerai is to give revenue to Amazon these days, what few do. Right. And so what that requires you have to have best in class reverse Logistics to reduce your costs, enhance sustainability, make your customers happy. But you probably as a retailer, don’t have the time or expertise to develop best in class solutions yourself.


[00:21:08] So Penthouse model, while brands and retailers are really good at developing and marketing brands and merchandising and selling. Right. And this I think the beautiful thing of what I call the MBA, the anyone but Amazon as opposed to fulfill by trademark registry. It is trademark. Yes. Anyone but Amazon, class of businesses. And I would put you all in that class of businesses. Is they do you do allow that level of independence? You’re not beholden to Amazon to get everything done right. I’m sure that you integrate with Amazon for reconciliation and all that sort of thing as well. So it allows a brand that wants to stand on their own two feet to do so. Yes. And that’s going to happen more and more so as more data see and and retailers come into the marketplace.


[00:21:54] You know, I think the two sided sword that is Amazon, it is such a fascinating study in all things disruption, innovation, powering the e-commerce, giving, empowering the consumer, especially with returns. We all have our probably our own story about how our first Amazon return went. And it’s like, man, is that easy. OK. No wonder I’m a Tumbi five shoes and figure out which ones I like. And Cinderella’s back bracketing. Yeah. BRACKETING is what? Right. And so it is a fascinating company and best practices what I will do. But the flip side is it’s kind of reach that tipping point where now to collaborate. They have all the leverage. And so to see these big brands. And for that matter, small brands. We interviewed several here in the last few days that are figuring out that ABH strategy that is equally to us, at least to me, as fascinating. Right. Because we’re all at it. It seems like one of the even if it’s not spoken questions in a lot of our conversations is OK. Amazon’s been the dominant 800 pound player. But what’s the shelf life of that? I mean, where the end in sight. So I love seeing how companies get creative about whether they’re collaborating with or competing against Amazon and maybe doing both in today’s e-commerce market, you know, almost always. Yeah. Yeah. All right. So with your role as vise president marking, we you have a sense of where you spend your time, sir. What else? From getting the word out, from a telling that story taken action, what these are or maybe the path ahead. What do you see with happy returns?


[00:23:37] How are we going to tell that story?


[00:23:39] That the question that and how do you fit in the marketplace going forward?


[00:23:45] That’s an niche. I’d love to hear that.


[00:23:46] You know, how do you see happy returns? Considering what we’ve described here, how do you see happy returns playing in the marketplace in the future?


[00:23:54] Sure. Yeah. So I think we’re going to very quickly get to a place where a couple of things are gonna come to bear in terms of big changes in the industry. One, all retailers will offer intelligent exchange suggestions in their online return flow or with software. That’s something that our software obviously offers. But when a customer gets on your Web site and they tell you they want to return something and then they tell you why. So let’s say that I say these shoes are these top size, seven and a half shoes are too small. Your website should immediately say to me, oh, no problem, we have the eight. Can we send those to you like that? That is a moment of serendipity where companies aren’t retaining revenue and they all will be very shortly like it wells. The second thing is you think about what customers are really used to. Sorry. Let’s just take this is about people in general. Rightly, if I’m hungry, I can pull up 8000 apps and order food if I want to ride. I generally go one of two places on my phone. I’m used to choice. I’m used to immediacy. So choice is also becoming really important in the options that we give.


[00:24:59] Customers choose to get items back to retailers. So whether that’s by mail, whether that is by dropping off in an in store or dropping off at a third party network like our return, not return Barnett work. So that’s something else. All retailers will be offering choice and I think they will offer an in person option because invariably that’s what data tells us that shoppers want. And then I actually think that we’re going to very quickly get to a time as well where companies are going to start charging again for returns by mail, because as retailers are becoming aware of how they need to make it their entire supply chains more sustainable and eco friendly and as consumers demand that as the brands that they patronize. There’s some education that needs to happen. We have we just got some very early results from a survey that we did with Retail Dove and we’ll be coming out in March. But it basically underscores that shoppers don’t really understand the impact of how much cardboard they’re using and just to set like a level set. E-commerce returns waste one hundred at one billion trees a year. Right. So there’s incredible just industry change that will happen on things.


[00:26:07] 1 1 billion, A trillion B is in. Yeah, it’s we have a split. I’m a big fan of the. For changing the phonetic alphabet.


[00:26:15] Yes. Yeah. I’m a big fan of the fee based returns because as Tony and his research and experience established, there’s no such thing as free returns someone’s paying for in consumers or in the absence of the individual paying for it.


[00:26:30] We’re all paying. That’s right. So it’s roll out right into the costs.


[00:26:33] Yes. Friend of the show and my wife Amanda probably does not agree. Right. Because we have different shopping patterns. I don’t return much, but I know I’m paying for everyone else that returns quite often. Right. Not singling you out.


[00:26:47] And it’s a little bit bitter about it. But but you know what?


[00:26:50] Well, you know, what comes up is it’s really not for me. It’s not about the price because it’s. Let’s be fair. It’s incremental. Yeah. Industrial. But to your point about corrugated, you know, we use from groceries to you name it and the amount of cardboard. Drives me crazy. Evens out as I try to consolidate everything. Least amount of packages. We’ve talked about this Kurt, this crazy idea that they never come to fruition. I used to be a Winn-Dixie stock boy. Cool. Right. And so we had a big beiler in the back after stocking everything on a Sunday afternoon. We bring all those boxes back and create these these cross pallets. Well, we’re going to get to the point where we’re going to need like personalized versions of that to make sure all that core Gates is recycled. You know, it is overwhelming sometimes. Right. And I’m hoping that the consumers do continue to be more and more aware and cognizant because you’re speaking to it just from the return side and how much it produced the billion trees. When we all know just only the forward side, how much we’re using, we’re going to mean how can we make gains?


[00:28:00] Ryder page siplon. The thing is, you can use things like reusable packaging, which is what we use. And you can use those containers over and over again. And ideally, if you’re thinking really holistically, you’ll aggregate the shipment of product like we do, right. Instead of sending twenty one item boxes, send 20 items in one box. Think about how much fuel that saves and how much cardboard that saves. It’s just it allows more efficient.


[00:28:25] You’d be amazed though even when you try to do that. I just did that with some equipment we needed for the for the show. I set the vendor asked me to consolidate delivery dates to ship in one package. They still shipped it in two packages.


[00:28:43] My beloved wife is also our engineer. We’ve been looking at each other while we’ve been talking about this.


[00:28:49] Cause we just spent three weeks after Christmas breaking down just the boxes we received for the shipments coming in, right.


[00:29:00] And putting them in in in the recycle bin because they won’t take more. Whatever. Yeah. So I mean there is a tremendous amount of waste in the supply chain already on the front end. You see things and and this is another thing. Consumers are really aware of this. They’re really aware of when the packaging is excessive for the product that they buy. What they’re not aware of and I think this goes to your point, they’re not aware of their impact and they aren’t going to be aware of their impact until it costs them something. Yes. It’s all about economics. Very much so. Right. I mean, we are we’re all environmentalists until it costs us something to do it. Right. I mean, some of us still are even beyond. Well, we all hope you said hope. You’re right. I think we have to motivate with economics. Yeah. Right. Good isn’t because consumers are not going to we’re not gonna be trained to do anything except what’s most convenient for us. We just don’t think that way. And there are X number of billions of people we have to train. Yeah, it’s a lot easier to train people when you give them a motivation. And the only motivation that’s universal is.


[00:30:01] Yes, because cost down to what’s in it for you. And I give you one more answer. Ryder loves you. The other kind of like how we fit into the ecosystem. But it’s more of a trend of what I see among the direct to consumer brands in particular. Yeah. The digital experience and the physical experience are very difficult to merge. And yet that is an expectation from shoppers. And so you’ve we’ve seen companies that are just online. Right. And then sometimes they’re starting now to go and open stores like Rice, for instance, there. They’ve had one in seven Tesco that are opening their second, third, fourth and fifth. And then you’ve also got the other end of the spectrum, the big box retailers that are consolidating the number of locations. And we’re all very familiar with the retail apocalypse. Right of headlines. How many companies are going bankrupt and and shutting stores down? And I think that there’s I think we’re. And this is what I love about with the way the world is headed. This win, win win idea. I think we’re headed to a time where you don’t have to choose either or from the perspective of stores. And that’s where third party networks are going to be coming into play. So, yeah, for instance, with something like a return bar network, which is where Paper Source or Simon Malls or Office Depot or cost plus world market.


[00:31:15] Bed, Bath and Beyond, where they host return bars in their stores where products that are bought from our retailers. So Rotha is and Revolve and Hackberry an American giant. Shoppers can come in with their item, no box, no label, no tape. Drop off that item and get their refund immediately. That’s a great way for the retailer to enable really simple, simple and seamless an amazing experience. It also has a sustainability element element and a cost reduction element because the products that aggregated back to our hubs and reusable packaging. But it’s it’s a great way for retailers across the industry to partner, because all of a sudden, let’s say I get a paper source coupon while I’m in the store for five dollars off and I buy a couple cards or I get a product gift wrapped or whatever it is, there’s all of a sudden people are starting to benefit in ways they need. So in this case, foot traffic and conversion. I know. So I think that’s somewhere we’re headed soon to where this outsourcing model companies are going to move away from feeling like they need to own their storefronts.


[00:32:16] It’s not unlike the way that they have moved away from owning their own warehouse networks. I mean, there are tons of Franklin warehouse providers. All right. So. I could see ultimately that happening right where somebody hosts many stores within a store, if you will.


[00:32:32] And in a in a play from that playbook, not exactly I’m talking about, but Toys R US and Target for the holidays at Toys R US, as did Web site, actually went to Target’s fulfillment. And I think even the transaction was made on the target infrastructure. So all types of different collaboration take place, whether it’s two big brands like that or lots of the players. Yeah. All right. So let’s let’s shift gears a bit as we start to wind down the interview and listless. What’s one topic or issue or challenge outside of kind of a happy return space that you, the Supply chain leader? It’s on your radar more than others right now.


[00:33:17] I would say it’s that triple bottom line that I spoke about. I think weather relates to reverse Logistics or not. Companies are being held to a higher standard as they think about staying in business to also take care of their actual their employee base as well as their customer base. Right. And their partner ecosystem. And then holistically together stay in business. And then also take care of the planet.


[00:33:40] That’s something that I’m fascinated by. I’m a big believer that challenges eventually give you a much better solution. And I think a. Challenges are pretty significant.


[00:33:50] Well, the retailers hold all the power there so they can make. They can definitely make it happen. Right. I mean, you if you are the customer of your suppliers and your supplier, you want your suppliers to act ethically and in a sustainable manner. All you got to do is ask. They have to or else you have the ultimate control. You can choose to do business with somebody else. All right. Well, I’m glad that retailers are starting to take the floor there.


[00:34:16] Ok. So how can our listeners get in touch, you know, connect with you and learn more about happy, happy returns?


[00:34:23] Sure. So Happy Returns Web site is the best place to go. Happy returns, plural. Dot com. And me personally, like LinkedIn is probably the best way. Definitely not Twitter.


[00:34:35] No, not at all. Or I’m on it. I think. Yeah, Twitter is.


[00:34:41] It’s like it’s hot and cold. You love it. And you in and you love using it daily or you absolutely hate it and you don’t have any interest. And it’s just a weird thing like that. But. Well, happy returns, plural. Dot com. Yes. And linked in. And also the event circuit. Are you all are you all active? You’ll get out in an exhibit and speak and share it in SRI conferences.


[00:35:11] We do. So we’re speaking here. The reversal just X conference. And then I think our next one up is going to be at shoptalk.


[00:35:17] Ok. Fantastic to be a woman these days. Oh, you know, that’s the curve balls now. Yeah, you’re not. Let’s us the glass. Right. What I really enjoy.


[00:35:32] I’m glad we’re able to nail this down and sit with you and learn more about Caitlin Robberson, the professional, as well as the happy return story. So what the chip back in with you a few months down the road and keep her finger on the pulse of all the cool things and growth that you are experiencing. And happy returns and congrats on the possession. Thank you. Clearly, you’re a quick study. You said four months ago. Holy cow. Well, that that’s probably not going too far back. But but when you go through when we have the experience and all the different sectors and as you put it, points of view per view, what have you. Yeah, that part helps you get a quick read. Quick study. So you can you can make traction as early as possible.


[00:36:09] That’s super kind. And thank you by you guys for having me. It’s our pleasure. Honored around such an industry icon.


[00:36:15] Shout. Wow. We’re an icon. Thank you.


[00:36:21] Well, pleasure to speak with you. So, Greg, we want to do here and sit tight for just a sec. Lightning round. Are we doing lightning? Let’s do the lightning round. Our events that we’re gonna be.


[00:36:30] And we love to invite our audience to come check us out in person. And while we do a lot of our content from our home base and in studios in Atlanta, we get out as much as we can. And, you know, because there’s such value in the face to face in a personal in this ever more digital world. So what’s the next event on our radar?


[00:36:50] No-tax. Right. So motets is a big material handling show. Thirty five thousand of your closest Supply chain Cavort in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Georgia World Congress Center, March 9th through the 12th. And then on the 10th during Moto X being hosted by Moto X at Moto X is the Atlanta Supply chain Awards where Scott Supply chain now and I and a whole bunch of people from the Atlanta area are going to celebrate what goes on in Supply chain hand out some awards to companies that are either based in or do business in the Atlanta metro area. So get some nominations in. That at Atlanta Supply chain Awards Moto X is Moto X MDX show dot.


[00:37:34] Yep. And it’s so Moto X which is Greg mentioned largest Supply Chain Now Radio in North America free to attend so good moto x Sheer dot com to register Vetlanta supply chain awards that break complex Compaq. Complicated naming of that web site. I don’t know where I don’t know where we came up with that, but nominations are open through February 15th and we were very fortunate to have Kristian Fisher, Presense CEO, Georgia-Pacific serve as our keynote this year in year two of this event. Great, great event partner that we facilitate along with our friends at Metro Metroliner Chamber, CSC, Peatling, a roundtable and a PIC’s Atlanta. Okay. Then we’ve got two events coming up with the Automotive Industry Action Group, right? AIG. We took I was gonna see if you we’d talked about it enough to be on your right.


[00:38:20] No, but you’ve given me a card here that allows me to read it. So tell us about it. Yeah, they’re corporate responsibility summit in Michigan. No, VI. No, no. In Michigan at night. So there’s an interesting story. We’ll tell you later about how nove I got its name. But April 28 and 29, right. That’s Jim Liegghio and his group at AIG. And then on June 9th, there Supply chain Summit. Also, I believe it’s at Wayne State University. Yes. The thought the follow up event, they have got a great supply chain program tonight. Yeah. Yeah. So we’re looking forward to that. Buit Michigan is so beautiful in June, right? They’re the right couple of weeks. You actually hit summer. So I know it’s great. And I’m a big fan of the Detroit metro area and the London Chophouse where we will be having a delicious and tasty steak. Outstanding. We look forward to it. Yeah.


[00:39:14] And then one last event, the A.M.E., the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, is bringing its 2020 Atlanta Leam Summit to Atlanta. Imagine that about 250 plant managers, V.P. of operations, folks that really love manufacturing and more importantly, love continuous improvement coming to Atlanta May 4th through 7th. We’ll be screaming lab that first day of that event for the second year in a row. Okay. Big thanks to our triple-A. Yesterday we didn’t talk about spritzing. We’ll save that for the next episode. Caitlin Roberson, Vise President, Marketing with Happy Returns. Really enjoyed you. Stop by and you’ll have a busy Vetlanta. Thanks Karp for a conference and time now.


[00:39:52] Thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. Welcome to Supply chain. Yes, that’s right. Because it is not born. It is not. We are fascinate. It’s a little scary. All right.


[00:40:04] Big thanks to our guests today. To our listeners. Be sure to check out our upcoming events. Past episodes, you name it, at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com. Finally, podcast where every year podcast from including YouTube. And be sure to subscribe. So you only see thing. Scott Luton. Greg White. Whole Supply chain. Now, team, stay tuned as we continue our live coverage of the reverse Logistics conference next. But right here in the center of the universe for returns and reverse logistics. Las Vegas, Nevada.  Thanks everybody.

Caitlin Roberson is the Vice President of Marketing at Happy Returns, the only provider of returns software and reverse logistics.  Before Happy Returns, Caitlin served as Director of Enterprise Marketing at Lyft. She built Lyft Business’ brand, content, and demand generation teams from scratch and led customer communications during the IPO.  Prior, Caitlin served as Partner at top-tier venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Previous to that, she founded, scaled, and sold a content marketing agency that worked with hyper-growth enterprise software companies like Google for Work, LinkedIn, Marketo, and Xactly. She graduated from UCLA.

Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now Radio. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now Radio and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now Radio. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. He also serves as an advisor with TalentStream, a leading recruiting & staffing firm based in the Southeast. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about SCNR here:


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