STORY INLINE POST
Q: What was the initial inspiration and motivation behind starting the company?
A: Devolut’s co-founders have a background in logistics and retail acquired both from their previous experiences working in the e-commerce and logistics industry and later by launching their previous startup City Hubs. That experience allowed us to identify a market gap in the product return process. Many companies see “returns” as a bad word and, in most cases, they are badly managed throughout Mexico and Latin America. Big marketplaces, like Mercado Libre, allow clients to return products at points of sale like convenience stores through a QR code. We want to offer a similar solution to every D2C brand and smaller marketplaces, allowing them to continue to grow and giving customers a great experience.
Q: What are the key benefits that clients experience when using Devolut’s SaaS solutions?
A: The first benefit is the software, which is a SaaS that automates the entire process of a product exchange or return. The shopper can avoid having to interact with the brand and the brand has the benefit of reducing manual labor and boosting future sales by providing a better customer experience. We not only streamline returns; we also help companies to retain clients and increase brand loyalty and conversion rates. We are including features that customers are asking for, such as tracking and net promoter scores (NPS), to improve the experience.
The second benefit is simpler logistics. To return a product, it is now necessary for the customer to deal with many inconvenient steps, such as getting a box, tape, printing the return label and waiting for the carrier company to pick up the product. This leaves them with a bad post-purchase experience, which translates to future losses from sales. For the seller, a product return represents added costs because logistics brands charge two or three times more for a return delivery because the process is not seamless.
The third benefit involves Devolut becoming the guarantor of the return. We receive the product, assess it and trigger the instant refund.
Q: As a relatively new company, what were some of the challenges Devolut faced when entering the Mexican market?
A: We chose to start the company in Mexico because it is the most relevant market in Latin America in size and growth rate. Thanks to our experience in our previous startup, we already knew Mexico and had connections with last-mile carriers and suppliers. One of the challenges to working in Mexico is understanding the local mindset, as business happens through relationships or thanks to a strong presence in the media. This latter strategy allowed us to expand our business.
Q: In August 2023, Devolut raised US$600,000 in pre-seed funding. How has this funding supported the company's growth and development?
A: After this funding round, we want to further penetrate the market and establish City Points (label-less drop-off points) as a pilot program before the next round. We will set up return points through partnerships with retailers, pharmacies and other companies so buyers can return products wherever it is most convenient using a QR code. This becomes more cost-effective for customers. We are lucky to have the backing of investment funds that have already supported similar projects and we have advisers from Cencosud, Coppel and Shopify. Our goal is to have 20-30 city points in Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City. The latter city will be our first pilot project and be launched before the end of the year.
Q: Gaining market confidence and recognition can be a significant hurdle for startups. What strategies did Devolut employ to establish trust and credibility?
A: We want to generate deeper relationships with decision-makers and advisers of large companies in the market, both local and international. Thanks to the latest round of investment and the new visibility that came with it, we can connect with companies that have our target customers as clients, such as Shopify or VTEX. Through these relationships, we can gradually establish trust and credibility with our partners.
Q: How has Devolut adapted its services to cater to businesses embracing omnichannel models?
A: We offer the option of buying online and returning the product in-store for brands that have brick and mortar stores. For example, we are integrating a client who has 800 stores across Mexico, so buying online and returning in store, without losing tracking or visibility, is already a reality.
Within our application, clients can find the nearest point of return. Once they deliver it, our allies notify us and in the future we will launch a feature that makes an immediate refund. In this way, sellers have end-to-end tracking. In the future, we want to also offer means for clients to buy products in a physical store and return them from home.
Q: How does Devolut envision its role in shaping the future of retail and e-commerce technology?
A: Devolut is a key enabler for the growth of e-commerce. We do not want 80%-90% of the market to be monopolized by giants like Amazon or Mercado Libre but, rather, to give all smaller companies a fighting chance by equalizing the e-commerce experience at all stages.
We want Devolut to bring peace of mind when shopping online. We want the customer to think that if a brand uses Devolut, it will be easy to return their products. Our endgame is for people to recognize Devolut as a trusted brand so they can buy with peace of mind.
Devolut uses intelligent algorithms to boost sales, reduce costs and improve customers’ post-purchase experience through reusable shipments and a fully automated exchange and return portal.