E-commerce has fundamentally changed the buying habits of people around the world. Reduced shipping times and access to a larger variety of products are just a few benefits of the revolution in online commerce. But this incredible advancement in the relationship between buyers and sellers comes with its fair share of challenges.The additional waste caused by overstocked and returned products is one of the most significant of those newfound issues.
Five billion pounds of waste each year are the result of products that are purchased then ultimately returned, a trend that has negative effects on both the planet and the bottom line of retailers. BuyBay, a company that resells product returns and overstock for retailers, brands, and manufacturers, aims to combat that challenge; reducing waste while benefiting both retailers and consumers is at the core of BuyBay’s business model. The reselling process, however, can be complex.
Every product that arrives at BuyBay’s facilities needs to be assessed, graded, and routed through the correct stages of the reselling cycle before ultimately winding up in the hands of a new consumer. During CamundaCon, Rutger van Bergen, CTO at BuyBay, discussed how Camunda enables more efficient operations at each stage of the reselling journey by guiding manual processes while also enabling the automation of key decision-making tasks.
BuyBay: A Breakdown of the Reselling Process
BuyBay collaborates with retailers, e-tailers, and manufacturers that share an ambition to reduce waste caused by returned products. By guaranteeing that those products will be re-used while also generating the highest possible turnover for partners, BuyBay gives new life to products that would have previously ended up in landfills.
In order to understand the effort necessary to salvage and resell returned products, a brief overview of the process is required. Once a returned product is received by BuyBay, the process of reselling can be broken down into two overarching categories, each of which has three stages:
- Sorting – the product is received, categorized, and prepared for grading.
- Grading – the product is tested, evaluated, and prepared for selling.
- Repairs (if needed) – if it’s determined during the grading stage that repairs are needed, the product receives repairs, and is then ready for resale.
- Pricing – an algorithm determines the best possible price and sales route for the product.
- Mass Listing – based on the algorithm’s determination, products are listed across e-commerce websites like Amazon, eBay, and others. All products are sold within 90 days.
- Shipment and Fulfillment – Shipping and customer success processes are managed by teams at BuyBay.
The reselling process, from sorting to shipping, involves a number of moving parts and a blend of manual and automated processes to ensure each specific product receives the proper level of attention and preparation. Synchronizing those processes has been a main priority for BuyBay.
A Ball of Process Complexity
The moment an item is received by the BuyBay team, the process complexity begins.
“At the beginning of the process, all we know is that we’ve received a box with something in it… we ultimately need to figure out what the correct final destination is for whatever is in the box,” van Bergen said.
But doing so requires the synchronization of both automated and manual business processes. As a result, a BPMN solution that can capture the process complexity integrated within each stage of the reselling process is a vital component of BuyBay’s BPM strategy. Since certain aspects of the process require a human touch — like taking photographs or repairing products — the ability to blend the automated and manual workflows within a BPMN is essential for building effective, repeatable processes for the company.
“To manage that massive ball of workflow complexity is why we originally decided to turn to Camunda,” van Bergen said.
How BuyBay Uses Camunda
BuyBay utilizes Camunda to manage the complexity in processes, particularly by selecting specific workflows for unique products at different stages of the reselling journey. To ensure products are progressing properly through each stage of the journey, and that human interaction is properly defined, BuyBay utilizes Camunda’s BPMN Workflow Engine.
“Selecting the right flows for a particular product is caught in BPMN flows, and in those flows, we define where user input and user actions are required…this takes care of the complexity that needs to happen in the background,” van Bergen said.
When it comes to the decision making complexity — as in determining what the next step is in any process — Camunda’s DMN Decision Engine is utilized.
“DMN uses a number of different inputs to come to a conclusion..regular product information, physical measurements, and answers provided by users in the workflow step. These things are combined in the DMN decision tables to direct the flow of a particular product.”
The end users in the BuyBay warehouse utilize a frontend solution developed in-house by BuyBay. This solution hides the complexity on the backend and only prompts users when manual inputs are required — a beautiful example of a marriage between automation and user input.
What’s Next for BuyBay and Camunda
Applying Camunda to better manage decision-making and process complexity has demonstrated just how effective BPMN and DMN can be in the reselling space. With that newfound knowledge, BuyBay has its sights on similarly lofty goals.
“We now have this wealth of knowledge and experience in BPMN flows and DMN tables, we now want to start using this to support products in our partners’ warehouses. We put together a modular with the right integration points so that it can be applied to warehouses’ existing management systems…this can create less bother on our decision engine.”
The impressive success BuyBay has had with Camunda up to this point, it turns out, is just the beginning.
Ready for results? Get started with a Camunda free trial and experience some of the possibilities process automation can deliver to your organization.