There’s a startup that’s banking on those feelings, and has developed an entire business aimed at easing those pains.Let’s face it. Online returns can be a gigantic hassle. The mere suggestion of having to return something purchased online can lead to feelings of stress and consternation from the affected consumer. According to Pymnts.com, there’s a startup that’s banking on those feelings, and has developed an entire business aimed at easing those pains.
Santa Monica, CA-based Happy Returns is the brainchild of Mark Geller and David Sobie, formerly of Haute Look and Nordstrom Rack respectively. The duo recognized the fact that returning items purchased online can be a gigantic pain in the neck, and recognized the desire from consumers to be able to simply return the items in person. That led them to found the company in September 2015, and the company is banking on their concept of “return bars” catching on in shopping malls.
“ECommerce has evolved … eCommerce returns have not. The growth of online commerce continues at a rapid pace. The online shopping experience gets better every day. One area has lagged behind — returns. All online returns today are some version of ‘put in mail.’ Until now,” touts the company’s website.
The pair of entrepreneurs did some extensive research before bringing the concept to life, and found that shoppers overwhelmingly would like the option of returning an item purchased online at a brick-and-mortar location. Additionally, they found that retailers that offered this option were increasingly likely to earn shoppers business, while the ones that don’t face the risk of declining sales.
“There’s a whole large swath of shoppers that won’t buy things online because of the anticipated pain of returning them,” Geller says.
The concept of Happy Returns is fairly simple. Shoppers would be able to take the item they wish to return to one of the company’s return bars to be assisted by what the company refers to as a ‘Returnista.’ The employee verifies the item is in returnable condition, collects the relevant information from the customer, and initiates the return process on the back-end with the retailer. The return policy remain at the discretion of the retailer - i.e. full refund or store credit - but the customer walks away with confirmation from both Happy Returns and the retailer on the status of the return processing.
“We’re essentially just implementing their policy. It’s actually the retailer that is doing the refund. What we’re doing is submitting the refund to them,” Geller explains.
The return bars don’t require too much space to set up inside of a mall, and the company was recently announced as one of the startups that will enter an accelerator program with Westfield and R/GA. One location is up and running in the Santa Monica Place outdoor shopping mall. If all goes well in the accelerator program, there’s a good chance we’ll see these return bars popping up in additional malls.