Retail

The Warranty As An eCommerce Plug-In

photo courtesy of Mulberry

Retailers face a challenge when it comes to offering warranties for their customers: A warranty program can take months to set up and launch. But offerings such as Mulberry Platform seek to dramatically speed up that timeline to under a day.

“We want the retailers to be able to a launch a best-in-class warranty option in less than an hour,” Mulberry Platform Co-founder Chinedu Eleanya said in an interview with PYMNTS.com. The idea is that such platforms are essentially plug-and-play, with the ability to hook into the kinds of eCommerce platforms that merchants already use, such as Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce.

When merchants install these types of platforms, consumers can see them in different forms depending on what the retailer selects. Mulberry, for example, can be presented as an in-line option or as another item that consumers can add to their shopping carts. After purchasing the item with the warranty, the shopper receives a welcome email that provides them with access to a customer portal. And, in turn, the buyer’s information is automatically sent from the retailer to Mulberry, so the customer doesn’t have to fuss with sending registration cards through the mail.

Services like Mulberry also seek to make it easy for consumers to get a repair, replacement or refund, depending on the situation. To start the process, the consumer provides Mulberry with a simple description of what went wrong. Mulberry then evaluates the report to determine whether it’s a valid claim that warrants a repair or replacement. In the event that Mulberry can’t find a replacement for the item, the platform will offer a refund.

Mulberry also provides a dedicated 24/7 hotline in English, Spanish or French. Eleanya has found that consumers don’t want to send an email and wait for customer service to respond: “If something goes wrong, they want [a] real-time response,” he said.

Beyond the benefits to consumers, service plan platforms can provide revenue opportunities for retailers, which can sell the warranties as an add-on. Plus, these types of solutions can provide smaller merchants with the ability to offer warranties, as other warranty providers may not be interested in working with them.

Overall, the service contract industry in the U.S. is big business: Warranty Week, for example, estimates that the industry brought in a whopping $40 billion in revenue in 2016. Of that number, vehicle service contracts accounted for $17 billion, but other products and devices brought in $23 billion. Going forward, as startups like Mulberry seek to disrupt the industry, experts believe it will continue to grow.

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