Pilot Drop Update
I wanted to give you an update on our pilot drop. As we re-imagine the future of returns and excess inventory at Kept SKU, we started with a pilot for learnings. Our partner brands Lo&Sons, Boyish, and Amendi sent us inventory that ranged from perfect to lightly damaged. Last week we sorted, categorized, and curated the items it into beautiful mystery boxes that we pre-sold in a drop to customers. Part of our experiment was to see if:
a) brands want this service
b) if customers want and understand what we were throwing down.
Turns out both are true. We’re already getting reserve orders for our next drop 😎
Here are my takeaways:
The primary issue we are addressing is fashion returns. As we all move our shopping from in-store to online, fashion returns are exploding. They are the highest return rate product category, ahead of electronics. Some estimate up to 56% return rates. Brands have neither the process nor the partners to handle this problem efficiently and effectively. If we can be the ones to intake, inspect, and appropriately process and re-merchandise these returns, we think that’s a service well-provided
Next we are addressing damaged inventory. Here's a video of me talking about damages and how we are salvaging items. Damages can include product that never left the warehouse because of quality assurance issues, along with returns that come back slightly damaged. In the drop we learned that inventory labeled damaged can include items that just have the wrong hangtag, have a slight mark hardly visible to the naked eye, or can actually have real cosmetic damage that might surprise a customer.
Kept SKU's perspective is that some cosmetic damage, as long as it doesn’t alter the function of the item, is totally cool. In fact one of our customers, an Atlanta based corporate tax consultant, reached out upon receiving her box with a slightly imperfect item and said,
"I absolutely love this bag. I wore it on a date yesterday! It may not be pristine but it's perfect. I can know that at the end of the day my purchase is keeping things in motion and out of warehouses, putting things to use that very well should be and that's the thing that makes it special."
I believe this category of items is primarily a logistics issue on the brand side as well as a communications issue on the customer sale side, or a management of consumer expectations.
Marketing is important and it can be used for good. Kept SKU is making it clear to our customers that they are getting incredible value in these boxes and, for that value, some of the items might have a tiny imperfection but customers can feel good about saving them from the fate of landfill and incineration. That’s a win.
The final issue we are addressing is excess inventory. Sure we should produce *less stuff* as a global society. The hard fact is people still shop for new items. As long as there are production minimums, and on-demand manufacturing remains nascent, there.will.always.be.excess. SAY IT WITH US. Ideals are one thing. Reality is another. At Kept SKU we live in reality and we are giving this excess inventory another shot.
We also learned that working in a warehouse whose AC went out because a storm blew out power the day before is very hot but we can totally do it.
We sold a round of boxes with no marketing dollars and are getting reserve orders for our next drop. We also included some really cute Kept SKU branded, made in NYC, upcycled items made from post and pre consumer textiles, like scrunchies and face coverings. The scrunchies are a fan favorite and we'll have to make more.
We are getting great feedback from our customers so far. People are learning about our awesome brand partners, who may not have known about them before. We are saving items from landfill and incineration while paying the brands a fair price for these items for which they already paid to produce, and for which the planet already paid to create.
Here's to selling my car and finding a cheaper Brooklyn apartment to get this business off the ground. I'm serious about Kept SKU and its importance to people and the planet. I think we need to grow fast and quickly, but in the right way. Much more to come.
Kept SKU, Founder