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Happy Returns Extends ‘Return Bar’ Network to 2,000 FedEx Office Locations

With the returns ecosystem likely headed for its most hectic holiday season yet and anticipated costs expected to skyrocket for retailers and logistics providers alike, Happy Returns is seeking to alleviate the stress by partnering with one of the nation’s largest delivery services.

More than 2,000 FedEx locations, including 343 store-in-stores in Walmart, will offer Happy Returns’ in-person returns service by the end of October, enabling shoppers from the solution provider’s retail partners to return products, without a box or label, and for an immediate refund or exchange.

By adding FedEx Office to its Return Bar network, Happy Returns will quadruple the number of locations where shoppers can drop off returns. The more than 2,000 FedEx Office locations join more than 500 existing Return Bars in Happy Returns’ network located in traditional retailers, shopping malls, campus bookstores and office buildings.

The process works like this: Shoppers start returns on the retailers’ websites or at HappyReturns.com and receive a QR code. They then bring the items only, with no box or receipt required, plus the QR code to FedEx Office to complete the return. The in-person drop-off process is designed to eliminate the hassle and wait typically associated with packing up returns and sending them via the mail.

A typical return can take less than a minute, Happy Returns says, and is approved in real time with a refund or exchange immediately initiated in most cases. Using Happy Returns’ technology, FedEx will then aggregate box-free items from multiple merchants into a single eco-friendly, reusable shipment, which aims to reduce retailers’ process costs and eliminate cardboard consumption.

The reusable totes are made from recycled plastic and can be employed up to 100 times. By cutting out cardboard, Happy Returns customers are also helping reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 120 pounds for every 1 million returns, according to Happy Returns vice president of marketing Caitlin Roberson, citing a York Engineering study the company commissioned.

As with returns from other Happy Returns locations, the aggregated shipments from FedEx Office locations will be sent to one of Happy Returns’ two regional processing hubs, which use proprietary software to accept, sort, and process co-mingled returns.

“We are very excited to work with Happy Returns as we make the returns experience more convenient for shoppers while also streamlining the process for merchants,” Ryan Kelly, vice president of global e-commerce marketing at FedEx, said in a statement. “The packing experts at FedEx Office are ready to help customers, no box or label needed.”

One recent Salesforce holiday survey predicts consumers will send back $280 billion worth of global e-commerce orders—30 percent of all purchases made during the season. So retailers are definitely incentivized to streamline their reverse logistics processes and ultimately aim to cut costs, which is something they’ve been trying to do since the start of the e-commerce boom driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

With retailers seeking to save costs during the pandemic through an upgrade in returns and reverse logistics capabilities, Happy Returns has seen significant growth, noting that it has seen more customer growth in its most recent quarter than the rest of 2019 combined.

This growth includes surging digital natives such as apparel retailer Public Recreation, underwear brand Mack Weldon, and women’s activewear seller Betabrand; traditional incumbents with a renewed focus on digital commerce such as the recently revived Dressbarn, Steve Madden and flip flops and sandals seller Havianas; as well as direct-to-consumer upstarts such as healthcare sneaker brand Clove, nostalgic and vintage apparel seller The Great, bags and camera gear retailer Peak Design and sustainable outdoor apparel and accessories brand United by Blue.

On the logistics side, Happy Returns also recently partnered with Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services. Under the agreement, merchants that leverage Ingram Micro’s e-commerce order fulfillment solution can offer their online shoppers a branded returns portal powered by Happy Returns.

Once returns are received at an Ingram Micro warehouse, the company initiates the reverse logistics process in accordance with a merchant’s contract. Returns management may include inspection, value added services, repairs, refurbishment or disposal.

Unlike the other partnerships, the FedEx Office one is designed to make the Happy Returns drop-off network “Covid proof” as the locations are designated as an essential service that will remain open if further pandemic-related closures are required.

Due to the pandemic, Happy Returns announced modifications to its in-person drop-off service in June to include QR code scanning, which allows retailers to continue to serve customers while remaining contact-free for returns.

Happy Returns says that retailers using the company’s full offering average 20 percent cost savings, a 94 Net Promoter Score (NPS), 50 percent program adoption, and exchange rates as much as two times the average. The company guarantees 10 percent savings in the first year of adopting the service.

In some of its most recent retail partnership news, Happy Returns said that in the first 30 days since its launch with Dressbarn, over 75 percent of the retailer’s shoppers have opted to drop off returns in person rather than returning via USPS. Dressbarn said shopper feedback on the return experience has been overwhelmingly positive, earning an average NPS of 90.

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