Happy Returns is expanding its program with Cost Plus World Market, the returns service provider announced today. All 276 World Market stores will feature Happy Returns’ Return Bars by the end of September, after a pilot program in 11 stores that began in April, the company said in a release emailed to Retail Dive.
The service allows customers to return online orders in person without a box or label, and allows them to return items from a variety of retailers to any Happy Returns location. Everlane, Rothy’s and Eloquii are among the participating brands.
Happy Returns will also launch a pilot program at Bed, Bath & Beyond stores, the parent company of World Market, this fall. Happy Returns will have more than 700 locations in 143 metropolitan areas across the country ahead of the holiday shopping season.
The expansion comes just in time for the holiday season, which can serve as both boon and burden to retailers. Twenty percent of all returns take place at the holidays, according to business-to-business marketplace B-Stock, with apparel leading the way for e-commerce returns. And 48% of holiday shoppers return gifts the week after the holidays, while 46% do so within the month after the holidays, according to a report conducted by WBR Insights with Optoro and Consumer Returns.
Happy Returns seems ready to tackle that inevitable wave of returns: in April, it raised $11 million in a funding round that included an investment from PayPal. But it’s not the only player innovating in the returns space. Narvar lets e-commerce shoppers pick up orders and drop off returns from its Concierge locations, with Urban Outfitters, Levi’s and Nordstrom among its brands. Narvar inked a deal in April to provide Narvar Concierge pickup and returns at over 8,000-plus Walgreens locations that have FedEx Onsite services. And Returnly skips the returns experience altogether by working with retailers to give instant refunds to customers dissatisfied with items that would be discarded upon return, like makeup and undergarments.
While convenience is the main goal of these new services, there’s a sustainability aspect that’s worth keeping an eye on. Happy Returns consolidates each retailer’s returns and repackages those in resale condition to go back to that company; the company employs reusable packing to do so. Since 86% of consumers have made another purchase when returning a product at least once in the past year, according to Optoro, these vendors and their retail partners have the potential to recover some of the costs associated with processing returns while also forging new paths for an e-commerce lifecycle that has a lower environmental impact.