The “marriage” of Amazon to Whole Foods last month produced immediate benefits for the e-commerce giant: a chain of 400-plus delivery and pickup sites nationwide at which Amazon’s customers can receive or return merchandise.
This convenient return option is bound to be popular. Indeed, according to Farmington, Michigan-based Invesp, at least 30% of all products that are ordered from e-tailers such as Amazon are returned, as compared to about 9% of merchandise purchased in brick-and-mortar stores. What’s more, the company has found that 92% of consumers would buy again from an e-tailer if the product return process is comparatively easy—and 79% want free return shipping.
Now, a 2015 startup out of Gloversville, New York, called Happy Returns is offering technology, logistics and service to support a nationwide network of return points inside malls and mom-and-pop stores, according to Recode, in an attempt to offer other e-commerce sites a similar footprint.
The company has sealed deals with several mall developers—among them, Simon Property Group and Westfield—to process returns at existing customer service counters or to rent out space in their shopping centers for a Happy Returns return desk.
To date, Happy Returns has negotiated for 40 return locations across 14 U.S. metro areas with plans for many more.
Happy Returns is signing up budding e-tailers with few or no physical stores—including Everlane, Eloquii and Chubbies—to offer their customers the option to return items to malls near them. Happy Returns charges these sites a per-order fee that is lower than the cost that the e-tailer would pay to offer a free mailed-in return.
To help fund its expansion, Happy Returns recently raised a $4 million series A led by Upfront Ventures. The venture firm’s partner Greg Bettinelli has also joined the startup's board.