Happy Returns uses reusables to eliminate cardboard from customer returns

Online Fashion Retailers Draper James, Revolve, and Rothy’s are First to Jump Aboard

Happy Returns reusables


According to research, forty percent of online purchasers buy new packaging, often cardboard boxes, to ship unwanted purchases back.Happy Returns, which offers end-to-end return solutions to online and omni-channel retailers, recently launched a new program to stem the tide of cardboard waste by offering cardboard-free returns to its retail customers.

The company is addressing a growing environmental problem while offering online and omnichannel retailers and their customers easier and more user-friendly ways to manage returns. Approximately 165 billion packages are shipped in the U.S. each year, consuming nearly 1 billion trees annually.2 As e-commerce continues to grow at nearly 15 percent a year, so will the impact.3

“Happy Returns helps solve the $0.5 trillion/year3 Achilles heel of the online retailing experience: efficiently and effectively managing the logistics of returned items while keeping customers happy,” said David Sobie, CEO and co-founder of Happy Returns. “Our new program delivers returns in a way that is good for the planet, extending new benefits to retailers who wish to support a more sustainable environment and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Happy Returns now accepts box-free returns at their nationwide network of Return Bar locations, where online shoppers who purchase goods from Happy Returns’ growing list of retail partners can return products in-person. Happy Returns aggregates returned items across participating retailers then bulk ships them in reusable packaging to regional return hubs for sorting, processing and routing to the most efficient destinations. The reusable packaging shipped to retailer’s distribution centers are collected and reused at Return Bar locations. Happy Returns’ Return Bar locations have doubled since early 2018.

Fashion retailers Draper James, Revolve and Rothy’s are the first to sign on to Happy Returns’ new cardboard-free returns solution.

“Box-free returns align beautifully with Rothy’s ethos,” explains Heather Howard, VP of Operations and People at Rothy’s. “We are sustainable to the core and constantly examining how we can reduce waste. We’re proud to partner with fellow companies that prioritize the same goals. Happy Returns’ new program provides our customers another way in which to further participate in planet-friendly practices with our brand.”

In order to quantify the value of the box-free return model, Happy Returns commissioned the study, “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Consolidated Returns Shipments: A Retail Study”, by Yorke Engineering. The study concluded that the box-free return program, “curtails the total distance traveled both for returns and resold refurbished items and reduces the cardboard consumption required.”

Specifically, the Happy Returns model reduces the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 0.12 pounds per item returned. For example, a retailer with 1 million annual returns would reduce their environmental footprint by 120,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

John Horten, Vice President of Operations at Draper James, explains, “Happy Returns’ new box-free returns makes it easy for our customers to return their purchases while helping us contribute, however big or small, to environmental sustainability. It was a no-brainer decision for us to sign on.”

Self-service return solution to eliminate the pain of buy-online-return-in-store for omni-channel retailers and their customers

This March, Happy Returns announced the availability of a self-service return solution for omni-channel retailers. The solution includes a return kiosk branded for the retailer and powered by Happy Returns’ industry-leading returns software and reverse logistics. The service is available on its own or in combination with other elements of Happy Returns’ Full Stack Returns solution, such as a fully-branded online and exchange service and reverse logistics for processing and disposition.

For retailers, the self-service return kiosk provides a simple, easy way for customers to return online purchases in stores, without having to wait in the checkout line and create delays for themselves and other customers. By using the kiosks, retailers can reduce the burden on store sales associates of processing and potentially shipping or routing returned inventory.

“Our experience working at HauteLook/Nordstrom Rack and working with dozens of other retailers at Happy Returns informed our approach to managing the growing volume of online returns in physical stores,” said Happy Returns co-founder and CEO, David Sobie. “The new self-service return kiosk incorporates all we have learned about delivering a return experience that’s delightful for customers and more efficient and cost-effective for retailers.”

Completing returns with the kiosk is simple. Customers access an easy-to-use return flow via an integrated tablet on the kiosk to securely look up orders, select items, and choose to return or exchange each item. Customers are then prompted to place their items in the kiosk through a tamper-proof door. Typical returns take less than 60 seconds per item and refunds and exchanges are initiated in real time.

Retailers can immediately add items back to store stock or choose to utilize Happy Returns’ reverse logistics services. Happy Returns will then manage the inspection, processing and disposition of returned items at local Return Hubs, eliminating this burden from retailer.

1. Mui, W., Ph.D. (n.d.). Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Consolidated Returns Shipments: A Retail Study (p. 4, Rep.). Yorke Engineering LLC.

2. Peters, A. (2018, April 20). Can Online Retail Solve Its Packaging Problem? Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/40560641/can-online-retail-solve-its-packaging-problem

3. Ali, F. (2019, February 28). US ecommerce sales grow 15.0% in 2018. Retrieved from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/us-ecommerce-sales/

4. Orendorff, A. (2019, February 27). The Plague of Ecommerce Return Rates and How to Maintain Profitability. Retrieved from https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/ecommerce-returns