A new app-based returns solution called ReturnQueen, which provides a concierge-like service where consumers can pay a one-time, monthly or annual fee and leave multiple returned items from different retailers at their door to be picked up, has expanded nationwide and is launching a B2B offering.
The startup has been bootstrapped to date, but the partners said they are looking to launch a funding round. They’ve also been in discussions with retailers interested in the service, both midsize and enterprise level. ReturnQueen is offered on the retailer’s site, and designed to integrate with a variety of systems including ERP and returns management vendors like Narvar, Aftership, Loop and ReturnGo to prioritize and optimize the reverse flow of goods.
ReturnQueen has 20-plus smaller, leased sortation centers in the south, the west and east coasts and Texas, using a mix of manual and automated processes. It’s the brainchild of co-founders and co-CEOs Daphna Englard and Dasya Katz. The two northern New Jersey moms realized there wasn’t anything available to simplify and consolidate all their ecommerce returns in one place.
The problem, the pair found, was that most returns involved the hassle of arranging for a carrier pickup, or bringing items to a UPS, FedEx or U.S. Postal Service store, or to Kohl’s or now Staples for Amazon purchases. Katz and Englard had the concept in 2019 and launched the company in 2020 in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area, just as the pandemic caused ecommerce to explode.
“Initially, when we started identifying the problem, there were all these apps to make shopping easier and quicker, but no one was doing the reverse,” Katz said. “Retailers have such complicated return policies, and every one of them has different deadlines. As busy moms and shoppers, it became a full-time job to do returns. We realized we need to fix this problem for consumers.”
ReturnQueen’s lite version, available nationwide, costs $7 a pickup and requires the customer to box up and attach a return label. The premium service, available in 20 markets and growing, costs $9 a pop for unboxed items with no label. Premium also has a subscription option at $19 per month or $99 per year for unlimited pickups, six days a week.
The contactless pickups are often scheduled the following day, within a designated four-hour window. The convenience play of a returns concierge service should resonate with time-strapped urban professionals. ReturnQueen uses a mix of its own employees and crowdsourced drivers, as well as its own sprinter vans, and a third party provides the route optimization software.
Asked about similarities with Happy Returns, where shoppers bring their items to a returns bar in a mall or retail store, Englard called them “our cousin.”
“We have the same goal, but with different methods,” she said. “With them, customers can walk into the store, or with us they leave it at the door and don’t think about it. Even if a retailer is integrated with Happy Returns, they can still offer ReturnQueen as a pickup option.”