Happy Returns on Weathering the Tidal Wave of Returns from Buoyant Online Shopping

Amidst and post the pandemic, online shopping journey is no longer linear. Returns are on the rise, grabbing renewed attention and heightening demand for sustainable retail practices. This triggers a serious headache for online retailers, yet Happy Returns has come to erase it out.
Happy Returns co-founders at the Fedex store
Courtesy: Happy Returns
By | 8 min read

Is Returns the most uncomfortable part of Ecommerce? Many retailers have tripped over this reverse selling progress and found it difficult to make returns much more convenient and to make the most out of their customers’ pool. Nevertheless, most merchants don’t know about the feasibility of this sphere, reverse supply chain, except for a small venture with an incredible approach.

A contradictory put together “Reverse Supply Chain” turns out to be essential

Retailers have always been focusing on smoothing the forward supply chain in order to fast sell goods and services. However, besides the traditional flow of goods, the reverse motion exists along the way, and it is turning out to be more popular today. Reverse supply chain is also the process of delivering items but in an opposing direction, which is from the customers to the vendors.

A streamlined and effective backward supply chain is required for all actions that involve managing returns of faulty goods, picking up empty packaging, or even collecting old home appliances and other used goods. By focusing on both logistic directions, businesses will be more likely to address customers’ needs and complete customer’s cycle which leads to the business reaping sweet fruit of competency.

The Rising Demand for a Discomfort of Ecommerce Retails Model  

According to the US Commerce Department, e-commerce sales topped $1 trillion in 2021, a 38% increase from 2019, and accounted for 16% of all US retail sales. On top of that, the return rates for online purchases are often two to three times greater than those for in-store sales. Online shopping can be fast, easy and convenient but making returns for those simple purchases can be a real headache.

The reverse supply chain was considered to be inefficient and valueless. It was just like going the wrong way in a one-way street. But we can’t deny its necessity, as being said by the industry experts, 84 percent of shoppers avoid re-buying at a retail with poor returns service. Before hitting the “buy” button, customers often read returns policy in advance. Therefore, many retailers are trying to eliminate inefficiency and add more values in the returns process

As a result, more online merchants are putting efforts into making it simpler to drop off things at physical stores which are close to their customer’s home without the need for a box or shipping label. Happy Returns is one of these solutions that makes a leap from uneconomical returns supply chain to sustainable way of doing.

Small Venture with a Big Ambition to Ease The “Classic” Headache Out of E-commerce

“We enable the same ease of use and convenience of returning in-store for retailers that don’t have an existing store,” said David Sobie, CEO and co-founder. Sobie and Geller first got to know one another while working at the flash retailer in Los Angeles known as HauteLook. Back then, HauteLook was testing an option for their customers which allows them to return online purchases in-store at Nordstrom Rack. From there, Sobie and Geller cultivated a dream of easing the return process with the customer in mind.

Moreover, today, more brick-and-mortar establishments are preparing to accept returns from other online merchants there, giving current customers another reason to visit and offering potential customers a reason to stop by and take a look.

There have come many chances, Happy Returns was born, and California’s Los Angeles is the home of it. The company has been establishing a network of physical venues where customers may drop off returns from online retailers. Happy Returns also collaborates with online retailers to manage product returns. At third-party sites known as “Return Bars,” including FedEx, Cost Plus World Market, and Paper Source outlets, purchased items can be returned in person without boxes or labels.

Happy Returns has soon foreseen the potentiality of this sphere as there are a bunch of beneficial factors resulting from the change in the returns method. Firstly, aggregated shipping returns will significantly reduce resources waste and mileage. In addition to saving money, time, and labor when ordering packaging, taking an environmentally conscious stance will score the business a brownie score in terms of customer’s experience and foster loyalty. By immerging in this field, Happy Returns will help merchants enhance their customers’ experience to achieve an edge over their competitors.

Happy Returns to Elevate Return Experience Amidst the Surge of Online Shopping

staff at Happy Returns regional hub checks transportation status
Courtesy: Happy Returns

As this is an innovative approach to the burning issue, many people have been concerned about how business’s operation is. Happy Returns claimed that with its statewide network of more than 700 Return Bars, customers can quickly and conveniently return items without packaging or printing in under 60 seconds and obtain reimbursements right away.

Using low carrier rates and pooled shipping, all products are shipped in bulk within eco-friendly, reusable boxes to Happy Returns’ regional Return Hubs, where they are sorted, placed, and processed.

The business has experienced rapid growth since it was established. Through partnerships with large national retail chains like Paper Source, Sur La Table, and Cost Plus World Market, Happy Returns has quickly expanded its network of Return Bars to over 350 locations in 63 metro regions. This has allowed it to provide its in-person returns service, leading digitally native brands including Rothy’s, Everlane, and Parachute Home have adopted its Full Stack Returns suite.

Customers will no longer need to contact the customer service staff to keep their eyes on their returns by starting refunds as they drop off their returns. It is reported by the company’s survey that customers have been able to save 20% on average cost since they used the startup’s full offering. 

Besides, it achieved a net promoter score of 93 based on thousands of responses to consumer surveys and up to 2X higher exchange rates, putting them in the 99th percentile for the retail sector.

Happy Returns has also seen an 800% increase in returns and exchanges processed annually. The business has established two regional Return Hub facilities for processing and aggregating returns in Blandon, PA, and Van Nuys, CA, to accommodate this development.

Happy Returns & Notable Transactions

PayPal is a remote online payment system that facilitates safe and secure paying, sending and receiving money. Throughout Happy Returns’ existence, PayPal has been a close collaborator. According to the publication of Happy Returns, PayPal had a strategic investment in the year 2019 as the result of an $11M financing round.

Back then, PayPal recorded an increase in online shopping and the resulting returns; hence, the year 2021 witnessed the organization acquired Happy Returns for an unknown sum in response as part of PayPal’s ambition to have a bigger impact on customers’ post-purchase and return experiences.

Impressively, to date, Happy Returns has received nearly $27 million in investment for PayPal withholds the deal terms. Their latest funding was raised on April 25, 2019, from a Venture – Series Unknown round. Besides, U.S. Venture Partners, Maveron and PayPal Ventures are also 3 out of 8 investors of the company.

After the acquisition, Happy Returns continues developing its platform and expanding its clientele with PayPal, the organization will collaborate with merchants and customers on and off PayPal’s platform. Along with more than 120 employees, the company’s co-founders will join and work for PayPal as well.

A Sustainability-Driven Force Within an Environmental Unfriendly Sphere

customers at the return bar in a convenience store
Courtesy: Happy Returns

Due to this phenomenal growth of e-commerce, boxes are now accumulating in houses across the nation. This revolution of packaging will harmfully affect the environment as it will end up releasing Greenhouse gas and contributing to global warming.

Happy Returns has been soon aware of the urgent situation. Not only had the company been recognized as growing disruptively, but it also acquired a reputation for its green and sustainable concept.

The company has decided to take on the responsibility of ensuring people’s convenience in transporting goods while keeping the process beneficial for the environment. After receiving joint retailers in person at local Return Bar locations, the aggregated returns are shipped to the regional Return Hubs. From there, reusable containers will be used to contain returns which are processed and sent in bulk.

Thanks to this logical logistic, the business has made an impact on the environment as well as local awareness. The Greenhouse Gas emissions from shipments are significantly reduced. By switching from single use cardboard to cardboard-free program, Happy Returns contributes to the prevention of box booming and throw-away culture. In comparison to returns by mail, we can see this model is much more sustainable.

Prospective Innovation to Unwaveringly Drive Forward

“It’s great for consumers, because they get a return process that is easy and fast. It’s great for the locations hosting return bars, because they’re obviously getting the foot traffic,” Geller explained. He added, “and it’s great for retailers, because not only are they providing their customers with a service that they want but they’re also saving money in the process.”

Happy Returns staff at the headquarters office
Courtesy: Happy Returns

Although the company has solved many stakeholders’ problems and contributed to the cutting of cardboard waste and carbon footprint, Happy Returns still dreams of finding alternative ways to reduce some of its shipments in the future. The company figures that the process for the returns to be brought back to the warehouses and then sent to their new order is lengthy and environmentally damaging.

To speed up delivery times for new orders, Happy Returns plans to repackage and ship a returned item to a new customer who has just made an order on the retailer partner’s website rather than returning it to a retailer from one of its return warehouses.

Accordingly, its succeeding innovations and improvement for the sake of customers’ convenience has elevated the company’s place in the industry and its revenue is also expected to rocket prospectively.

The Bottom Lines

E-commerce advancement has so far not shown any indications of slowing down, which may be since client needs are also constantly increasing. Hence, Happy Returns, a software, technology, and logistical combination that enables merchants to handle returns through their own physical stores is critical to people’s demand and sustainable solution for the returning process. I am looking forward to witnessing business flourishing and the spread of Happy Returns’ message about the environment across various industries.

  • About: Belle Vo
    Join EnvZone as a Section Editor and Analyst, Belle has been passionate about writing and producing insightful stories. She shows her beliefs in the power of writing and desires to bring…