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Signifyd Customer Story: Mitchell & Ness builds global expansion on automated fraud review


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Image is everything for streetwear fans. Mitchell & Ness bases their brand strategy on this simple truth. The Philadelphia-based company has been the source for vintage sports apparel and current pop culture looks for decades. 

While they originally made their name over 100 years ago by specializing in sporting equipment and uniforms for local sports teams and clubs, their current brand captures the best of old and new: beloved sports jerseys featuring forgotten color schemes and logos plus the hottest items in music and entertainment. It’s hard for a brand to stay relevant over 100 years in business. Mitchell & Ness made it happen by staying tuned in to what’s new and upcoming in streetwear trends and attitudes. 

Mitchell and Ness Red Pistons

Mitchell & Ness specializes in sports and streetwear apparel with vintage designs

“We’re in a unique and steady market,” said Andrew Basenfelder, applications manager at Mitchell & Ness. “Our customers shop with us because they know they can find a baseball cap or jersey of their favorite team or player from when they were a kid, or they have an appreciation for that old uniform. Our nostalgic throwback jerseys and team uniforms serve a market that never goes away.”

Always on trend

Sports fans have lots of omnichannel shopping options. Mitchell & Ness stands out with their unique experience for their throwback-obsessed customers. Thanks to the retailer’s long-standing relationships with North American professional sports leagues, Mitchell & Ness has access to vintage logos and uniform designs through licensing deals.

The marketing department’s Energy Team drives the success of the Mitchell & Ness streetwear lines. They’re embedded in the music and entertainment scenes, making connections with today’s most popular artists and bringing those personalities into the Mitchell & Ness fold. “Wu-Tang Clan, Bruno Mars and Slam Magazine are just a few of our collaborations,” Basenfelder said. “It keeps us relevant in the music and entertainment industry as a hip fashion brand with a sports appeal.”

A greater reach can bring more risk

Customers can shop from the collections in the Mitchell & Ness flagship store on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, other retail brick-and-mortar locations around the U.S. and in the United Kingdom and online. Their expanded ecommerce strategy includes cross-border, direct-to-consumer sales, which brought more traffic and attention to their website. It was a good problem to have — until fraudulent orders began piling up, increasing the need for manual review. 

Basenfelder and his team did their best to keep up with the increasing demands of reviewing each other by hand. “I set up filters in our order processing but it wasn’t enough to capture all the risky transactions,” he said. “I had to manually review each order that came through our website and make an educated decision on whether to approve, deny or hold an order. That was way too time consuming, especially as our business grew.”

Shipping around the world made manual review even trickier. Orders coming from areas with a known high risk of fraud and orders where the billing and shipping addresses were in different states delayed processing times for Basenfelder and his team. “We had to delay orders to investigate fraud,” he said. “We’d take necessary steps to validate the order or reject it. At that time we only had two people working on order reviews. As orders increased, especially around the holidays, the review process would get longer and longer.”

Basenfelder’s team knew what to look out for with fraudulent orders. They’d dedicated significant resources and bandwidth to keep up with manual review on international orders. They even built their own algorithms to catch bad orders. “It was getting out of hand,” he said of their uphill battle with manual review.

Leaving fraud review to the experts

Going into the 2017 holiday season, Mitchell & Ness decided to try Signifyd to handle their fraud review. The fraud and manual review problem had escalated quickly, but the decision to bring Signifyd aboard had been brewing for some time. “After doing some research, it seemed like Signifyd was the industry leader,” Basenfelder said. 

Mitchell and Ness blue Lakers

The jerseys, shirts and other pieces from Mitchell & Ness are hot items — making them a prime fraud target

Within a month of implementing Signifyd’s Guaranteed Fraud Protection during Thanksgiving week, Signifyd’s automated fraud review was fully live on the Mitchell & Ness website. “It made total sense for us to employ Signifyd to take the daily fraud review task completely out of our hands,” Basenfelder said. Since turning over fraud review to Signifyd’s machine learning-powered engine, Mitchell & Ness wholly trusts the decisions from the automated review. 

“Signifyd approves or declines each transaction based on their review,” he said. “If we get any chargebacks, Signifyd covers the costs. It’s a no-brainer.”

Having this enhanced intelligence is powerful for Mitchell & Ness’ business. International ecommerce expansion has driven major growth for the retailer. Signifyd Commerce Network means they can use transactional and behavioral data from more than 10,000 customers shipping products into over 100 countries to get a more complete picture of where fraud is most likely to happen. 

“Our strategy has never included blacklisting locations,” Basenfelder said. “When we see increased fraudulent activity from a certain area, we ask Signifyd to review those orders more closely. We don’t want to lock the door on shipping to any country or region in the world.”

Automating their fraud review process has paid major dividends for Mitchell & Ness over the last two years. Since bringing Signifyd on board to manage fraud review, the retailer’s staff can focus on the more essential and high-touch tasks that contribute to their brand success, like responding to customer inquiries and issues. Their success with Signifyd shows up in increased approval rates: a 15% increase in approval rates on international orders and a 12% improvement in overall order approval rates. 

Forward thinking in business and fashion

Any company that’s been around for over a century is doing something right. For Mitchell & Ness, their success comes from the right partnerships, tools and collaborations that push the boundaries of their business. As the company grows, they can rely on Signifyd to help them take on the challenge of defending their business against fraud. 

The Mitchell & Ness innovative brand reaches new customers around the world every day and brings in new fashions with its expanding stable of pop culture collaborators. Global growth in overseas markets is key for the next stage of Mitchell & Ness’ success. “Our growth into areas like South Asia, China, Japan and Australia is very exciting for us,” Basenfelder said. “It helps us grow our online business.”

Here’s to the next 100 years of Mitchell & Ness.


Contact us to learn more about how revenue optimization can help your cross-border ecommerce business.

Chris Martinez

Chris is a content strategist at Signifyd.