October 12, 2022

The Seel playbook: pairing relevance and personalization to drive ROI

The Seel playbook: pairing relevance and personalization to drive ROI

Seel is the simplest way for brands and marketplaces to offer post-purchase guarantees and Amazon-like return policies to customers — with zero risk. Today, 400+ clients see an average conversion lift of 6% and a 24% opt-in rate from buyers for Seel’s Return Assurance. 

We sat down with Zack Peng, Seel's Founder and CEO, to learn how they derisk the return offering and keep it completely free to retailers. We dive into: 

  1. How Seel simplifies the layers of post-purchase for merchants
  2. Why the promise of seamless returns drives purchase rates
  3. The compounding value of leveraging DTC personalization
“Seel’s thesis has always been trying to underwrite high-frequency, daily inconveniences in people’s lives. That's how we struck gold.” 

How brands can compete with Amazon-level user satisfaction

Consumers almost always get their orders on time and in great condition from giant companies like Amazon or Nike. 

That’s because the biggest marketplaces can go out of their way to offer customer benefits like instant returns and refunds. They also guarantee delivery dates and warranties to consumers. 

Not just any brand can make those sorts of offers. To build out the necessary programs: 

  • It’s simply expensive
  • It requires dedicated team members
  • And it represents an unquantifiable risk

In response, Seel offers their solution for brands hoping to compete with more prominent vendors in this sphere. 

At a glance, they abstracted away the layers of post-purchase guarantees — like returns, on-time delivery, instant refund, etc — and underwrote them, taking on the financial risk and offering it as a free service to all merchants. 

They partnered with Lightspeed Venture Partners and several other excellent investors to raise $25 million in seed and Series A funding to execute this vision. 

Solving the cash drain of eCommerce returns

When a brand says, "We accept returns within seven days," they've embarked on a complicated guarantee. There are several major obstacles to delivering on this promise: 

  • Financial risk — Different items have different return rates, and sometimes there's a “black swan event,” meaning there's a sizable gap between the total sale and the actual net revenue post-return. 
  • Shoppers’ behavior — Many customers buy ten things and return nine of them. They have every right to do so, but brands must decide if they want to enable it. 
  • Resources — Brands need dedicated people for teams, engineering, operations, and everything that returns entail. 
  • Logistics — The process of liquidating and reselling items is complicated. Full stop. 
  • Fraud — Disingenuous users can take a toll on your balance sheets.

Seel invested in building out a robust liquidation and resale network early on. As a result, they derive a higher remaining value from returned products than a typical merchant (someone who hasn't invested in that sort of economy-of-scale system) would. 

Zack affirms that this definitely makes Seel’s return process more efficient all around. 

Why return options improve DTC conversion

The most significant eCommerce metric that Seel impacts is conversion lift. 

Return Assurance offers shoppers (especially first-time buyers) peace of mind during checkout. When potential customers feel they can undo a risky transaction, that freedom increases confidence to actually complete the purchase. 

Across all merchant partners, Seel sees an average conversion lift of 6%. 

The tool also yields benefits like lowered support costs. If people can handle their returns independently, they reach out far less to customer service for refund assistance. 

These benefits also bring downstream growth to saved costs, LTV, and repeat purchase rates. 

“First, we wanted to improve marketplaces to attract more users. But, when we actually saw the growing conversion rate, we thought, ‘We’ve struck gold.’”

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The compounding value of personalization

Seel aims to build the best post-purchase guarantee platform on the market, allowing merchants to offer returns, instant credits, delivery warranties, and everything in between — without taking on the labor, costs, or risks. 

They’ll continue building out this product suite and partnering with brands, marketplaces, and even other eCom SaaS providers to make that happen. 

This will also help Seel clients see even more conversions, stronger LTV, etc. 

Zack is particularly stoked for their partnership with Windsor since he recognizes that automated, personalized video marketing can be a direct throughline to conversions. 

With any sort of marketing, personalization and heightened relevance are critical. 

Pairing relevance and personalization to drive ROI

We’ve already covered what Seel provides: Offering return options are shown to drive conversions, which is an intuitive cause-and-effect for vendors and buyers alike. 

However, the Seel team first discovered this by experimenting with opt-in widgets. 

They realized that the more relevant a widget is to an active shopper, the greater the chances are of a conversion. Again, we see how relevant personalization is to every step of the funnel and every aspect of the customer journey. 

“We’re excited to collaborate with personalization-driven tools like Windsor. They’re helping brands personalize videos at scale — it’s the future of marketing.” 

The Seel playbook: investing in one-click onboarding

Seel allows companies to offer return assurances in two significant spheres — the first being direct-to-consumer brands and the second being eCommerce marketplaces. 

For brands, Seel essentially becomes an extension of their return policies. 

For many brands, 80–90% of their inventory is typically returnable in 7–30 days, while the remaining 10–20% of items are final sales. Seel uniquely gives customers the option to return those items as well — while presenting little additional cost to the brand. This ultimately increases the brand’s sell-through rate and has a halo effect across their whole catalog because new shoppers tend to be drawn to clearance inventory.

How Seel partners with eCommerce marketplaces

These platforms don't own the goods they sell and don't typically offer returns to the customer because it complicates the seller experience. 

So, Seel allows consumers to pay a few extra bucks at checkout (their Return Assurance option) for the opportunity to return the item if needed — with all the simplicity of Amazon returns. 

Seel then handles the mechanics of the return and issues the full refund themselves, adopting the financial risk of the transaction. 

For any brand or marketplace interested in Seel: You can integrate in less than an afternoon. 

Seel offers both API and plugin integrations to easily integrate into brands’ check-out flows. So, if the merchant is on a platform like Shopify, it’s a simple one-click integration. Just fill out an onboarding form, and you’ll be ready to go. 

"Seel's mission is to enable every branded marketplace in the world to offer return options to their customers in an economically viable way."

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