One month on from NRF 2020 – the return of Uncrowd

Date Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Following up his preview post, Richard Hammond, CEO of Uncrowd returns to offer some of the highlights of this year’s NRF conference.

We’re back from New York having enjoyed a series of the most incredible boosts to Uncrowd’s startup story. We had fun too mixing with the Microsoft for Startups NYC chapter; aside from our hosts’ provision of the most incredibly buttery beef, our conversations among fellow founders were a timely reminder that we are not alone.

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NRF was all about a number of retail tides turning; chief among these tides is the one that washes up 30%* returns across the beaches of ecommerce. It’s been the elephant in the online room for a decade. Now trends in sustainability and, I suspect, the natural equalization of cost bases between online and offline have brought the issue into stark focus. Retailers, suppliers and above all customers are demanding solutions to the problem of having to receive or to make returns.

The returns epidemic costs the industry, the environment and customers money, time and resources. This year, across NRF, there was a real acknowledgment of this. Expect this year to see a slew of novel and exciting ideas emerge that stand up to meet this tide.

The other tides were closely related to each other; the first is that we saw a recognition this year that tech solutions need to be built with a realistic customer use case in mind. Until now, so many tech-driven innovations would lack retail practicality and/or would require customers to do too much to access any benefits. Finally, from Satya Nadella’s keynote onwards, retailers were demanding new solutions to help them know customers better. The tide those solutions are coming in on is one we’ve called the next generation of customer analytics.

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That need for new solutions is why Uncrowd exists; we’ve created a customer analytics platform, and a whole philosophy that is definitely a generational step forward. So much so that one person we met at NRF exclaimed ‘NOPE! What you’re saying isn’t possible!’ and then we showed them Friction/Reward Indexing using real data we’d gathered earlier in the Pennsylvania market on their stores… ‘This is magical, you’ve done it.’

We are the pioneers in ushering in next gen customer analytics, we won’t be the only ones. Just as being a founder is lonely at times, so too is forging a market on our own. Then you discover that being part of networks such as Microsoft for Startups are an antidote to that isolation. There’s a global ocean of us changing the world and while doing so, we are being lent the resources and privilege of those who went successfully before us. The next generation being cheered on by the first, there’s huge power in that collaboration.

*there is no universally agreed number for returns, most sources put it at 20% minimum, some much higher. We had an off-the-record discussion with one major fashion retailer who claimed 70% of all their holiday orders had come back to them.

Richard Hammond has been in the retail industry for 35 years, his current book Friction/Reward describes the Friction versus Reward metric and promises to revolutionize how you innovate for your customers, Richard and his co-founder embarked on building the next generation of customer analytics through their startup Uncrowd.uk.

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