A Happy Returns bar at Ulta Beauty (source: PayPal)
PayPal is extending returns services through its Happy Returns unit for free to all of its PayPal Checkout merchant customers, while also naming Ulta Beauty as an in-store returns bar partner, adding 1,300 locations and bringing the total to more than 5,000 in the United States.
Merchants can access the Happy Returns portal, with software that automates the return and exchange process. Shoppers can either opt for a refund, or be offered an exchange from the merchant based on the return reason and available inventory. They can also be directed to a nearby returns bar to drop off the item vs. shipping back.
The returns portal is also localized to eight languages to support services in Europe and Canada, and merchants can run reports on returns data and respond to customer inquiries in real time.
With ecommerce growth and adoption expanding even faster in the post-pandemic era, average return rates have increased to more than 20%, and American consumers returned over $218 billion of online purchases in 2021, according to a January report from the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail.
“Returns have become even more costly as shipping rates have increased and return volumes are materially higher due to more online shopping,” said David Sobie, VP of Happy Returns by PayPal and a founder of the company.
Since PayPal acquired Happy Returns in May 2021, Sobie said the idea of extending its software and reverse logistics to PayPal merchants has been part of the plan to improve the post-purchase experience for shoppers and drive operational efficiency and cost savings for merchants.
Sobie said the addition of Ulta Beauty as a partner means 78% of Americans will be within a 10-mile radius of a returns bar. The program was piloted at a number of Ulta Beauty locations in late 2021. “We have hundreds of retail partners who use the service including Everlane, Rothy’s and Revolve,” he said.