The Warehouse is using search technology from California company Elastic to validate customer and minimise the risk of fraud.
Previously, the retailer had maintained a 12-month money-back guarantee and allowed customers to return items without a receipt.
However, traditional ways of validating returns were time consuming for staff and did not provide a good experience for customers.
These included searching through physical and electronic transaction records using details like the last four digits of credit cards. This could take 15 minutes and employees could only search through data from their own store.
Trevor Jones, lead developer for The Warehouse Group's in-store systems and applications, and his team had previously developed a product search application using Apache Solr.
However, they knew they needed a solution that would easily scale to meet the data demand that would come with indexing all data from each receipt across every store.
The Warehouse launched a validated returns project, enabling employees using point-of-sale devices and service-desk computers across The Warehouse’s 93-plus stores to search through years of transactional data.
Using Elastic's cloud offering, Elasticsearch Service, team members are able to quickly find and validate transactions and refund customers exactly what they paid.
“Elastic has helped significantly improve our customer journey for those customers returning items, thereby improving customer satisfaction and their loyalty,” said Tim Duly, GM engineering at The Warehouse.
“Further, we are excited to deploy Elastic’s fully managed Elasticsearch Service as this gives us the opportunity to focus on our core business of servicing customers.”
The Warehouse Group is a publicly traded company on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. Its brands include The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Torpedo 7, Noel Leeming, and most recently The Market.
Elastic country manager A/NZ Paul Davis said The Warehouse was among the most novel and innovative retail use cases he'd seen.
The Warehouse's mobile team have since used Elasticsearch to add the ability for a customer to be able to scan and save their receipts, from within their existing mobile app.
NZX-listed The Warehouse Group includes The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Torpedo 7, Noel Leeming, and most recently The Market.