E-commerce shortcomings have quickly started to show. The current pandemic has brought forward serious constraints that come with online shopping and we’ve addressed these in a recent article. These issues, such as high costs, return logistics, lack of sustainability, and a detrimental impact on the environment are just a few that often arise with e-commerce.
At SREG, we’ve witnessed these concerns for a very long time. E-commerce is not a simple solution to replace brick and mortar when crises arise. Physical locations have served as the long-term infrastructure to retail shopping and this is what will remain, even if online shopping has seen a recent increase.
“With a few years of experience in buying online and several painful experiences of having to return the product, consumers realize that e-commerce is not a guarantee of seamless shopping,” said Thomai Serdari, a marketing and branding professor at New York University.
Many retailers have also followed suit, whether its straying away from e-commerce completely, or adopting omnichannel methods instead. Direct-to-consumer companies, such as Warby Parker and Casper, that originally relied solely on e-commerce, have now even adapted physical locations to make up for the logistical issues and provide more convenience to consumers.
“In two decades of thinking about what technology means to the demand chain, now everyone has a rude awakening to the constraints,” said Keith Anderson, senior vice president of product strategy and insights at Profitero, a tech company that houses major brands to accelerate their e-commerce sales.
It’s clearly evident that we aren’t the only company who has noticed this. In fact, a relatively new startup, called Happy Returns, is a one-stop solution that fixes e-commerce return issues. The company allows shoppers to return online orders from multiple brands all at once with a simple in-store method.
The LA-based company operates hundreds of “return bars” inside stores and malls. These serve as a place for consumers to bring their unwanted items and they will package it up and send it back to the company for them. Happy Returns has partnerships with about 80 retailers to enable this return process, with hopes to onboard more once they increase their brand exposure.
Happy Returns started as an initiative by co-founders David and Mark as a Return the Rack program, where Hautelook shoppers could return products to Nordstrom Rack stores. The insights and feedback from that first business led them to start Happy Returns so online shoppers could return products in person and avoid the hassle completely.
We are not the only ones noticing e-commerce’s shortcomings and Happy Returns proves this. Happy Returns took note of these issues and saw an opportunity to do something about it — eliminating the friction of online returns completely.
Their solutions point back to the importance of a brick-and-mortar footprint and physical experiences. With increasing risks in e-commerce, brick-and-mortar shopping serves as the most viable option. Plus, with Happy Returns providing in-store return services, they will likely get more foot traffic in stores they are located in after shoppers have made their returns.
Happy Returns’ process provides less logistical frictions, hassle or waiting that often arises with return online orders. They also use eco-friendly boxes when packaging orders and leverage lower carrier rates. Sounds like the perfect solution, right?
But, in order to truly thrive and gain more awareness, Happy Returns will need to expand its physical footprint in retail. By offering more return bars across the US, this will give the brand a bigger identity to solve e-commerce issues on a much larger scale.
Happy Returns saw an opportunity to fix a problem with return logistics by utilizing the brick-and-mortar space, so they did just that — making a clear stance on an issue, and providing a much-needed solution.
About Happy Returns
Happy Returns provides comprehensive return solutions for the world’s leading online and omni-channel retailers and their customers. With Happy Returns’ Full Stack Returns, retailers offer customers a best-in-class branded online return and exchange flow as well as the maximum flexibility for returning purchases. Shoppers enjoy multiple ways to return: in-person via Happy Returns’ nationwide network of 300 Return Bar locations, through the retailers’ own stores, or by carrier. Happy Returns provides aggregated shipping and logistics across all channels with optimized disposition to destinations of the retailers’ choice; all with comprehensive reporting and analytics. The result is a world class experience for customers (NPS® of 95) with maximum value for retailers