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Pain killer: Happy Returns, Staples join forces to ease online returns

E-commerce customers can now return online purchases at Staples nationwide

Customers looking to return e-commerce purchases may now be able to do so at Staples locations, as the retailer has partnered with e-commerce returns specialist Happy Returns. (Photo: Happy Returns)

Estimates for e-commerce return rates range from a low of about 8% to as much as 35%, depending on the source. Most experts have centered on estimates of 25% to 30% of all items purchased online being returned.

Some brands make it easier than others to process returns, but for customers, even those often rely on packing the item up, printing out a shipping label, and perhaps most worrisome, waiting sometimes days or even weeks for the brand to refund the purchase price.

Happy Returns has been trying to remove the customer pain from returns by partnering with leading e-commerce platforms such as BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify and Solidus. Now, it has announced a partnership with Staples U.S. Retail to open Return Bar locations inside 1,000 U.S. Staples retail locations for easy returns.

“Returns are an essential part of the shopping experience, particularly for online retail, and shoppers overwhelmingly prefer to return box-free in person rather than deal with the hassle and wait of returns by mail.” said David Sobie, vice president, Happy Returns. “Our partnership with Staples U.S. retail significantly increases the availability of in-person drop-off points for online shoppers and gives retailers a more cost-effective way to manage their reverse logistics.” 

Read: PayPal dives into post-purchase sector with acquisition of Happy Returns

Read: Happy Returns launches a kiosk that takes e-commerce return items

Happy Returns, which was acquired by PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) this summer, launched Return Bar in 2019. The nationwide service allows consumers to bring items for return to a Return Bar location. No packaging or labels are required.

Shoppers begin the return process on the merchants’ website or at to receive a QR code. They then bring the items only plus the QR code to a Staples retail store to complete the return. A typical return takes less than a minute, the company noted, and returns are approved in real time. Happy Returns initiates refunds and exchanges immediately in most cases. 

Happy Returns works with merchants to facilitate returns of online purchases, either by returning items to stores, to one of Happy Returns’ Return Bar locations (more than 3,800 with the Staples partnership) or through pickup by carrier. More than 75% of Americans now live within a 10-mile radius of a Return Bar location.

“The way in which consumers shop and return items is fast changing, and we are excited to partner with Happy Returns to better support shoppers and merchants in need of comprehensive and convenient return solutions,” said Craig Grayson, vice president of print and marketing services for Staples U.S. Retail. “Staples is a destination for all things shipping, especially for small businesses and remote workers. This partnership is a natural fit for us, and we look forward to Staples retail locations becoming destinations for simple in-person return options.” 

In addition to the previously mentioned e-commerce platforms, Happy Returns works with major brands, including Steve Madden, Levi’s, Revolve and Gymshark. 

Click for more articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]