PayPal is expanding access to last year’s return service, Happy Returns, by making it available to PayPal checkout merchants at no additional cost. The payment company said Monday that merchants can now use its HappyReturn return and exchange portal software for free, and it has partnered with Ulta Beauty to roll out return bars at more than 1,300 Ulta locations across the US.
Ulta Beauty will first expand through select stores and then expand to other locations throughout the year.
This is the first major effort PayPal has made for Happy Returns since acquiring the software and logistics service in 2021.
Since then, the number of return bars has nearly doubled from 2,600 at the time of the deal to over 5,000 now, including Ulta Beauty. These return bars are available throughout the US, and PayPal notes that 78% of Americans now live within 10 miles of one of these locations.
Customers do not need to visit a separate website to use the return service. If the retailer supports Happy Returns, the buyer initiates the return process directly on the retailer’s website. In addition, they receive a QR code that they can take with their item to the nearest return point. They do not need to pack the product or carry a box or label with them. When their QR code is scanned, customers get their money back instantly. The item is then placed in a reusable carry bag along with other items being returned to that location. PayPal explains that this large bag is picked up and sent to a recycling facility, reducing shipments.
Happy Returns retail partners will post signage at store entrances and checkouts to inform customers about the service. In addition, after returning an item, customers will receive a coupon from the retail partner of that place to encourage them to shop at the store. This process is similar to how Amazon works with its retail partners like Kohl’s.
This service has grown in popularity over the past year as online shopping continues to spread. PayPal says personal income at Happy Returns bars was nearly four times higher in February 2022 than in, say, February 2021. This doubled the number of retail partners from 2020 to 2021, now including Everlane, Rothis, Jim Shark, Mack Weldon. , and others. In addition to Ulta Beauty, customers can pick up their items at supported retail outlets such as Staples, FedEx, Papersource, Cost Plus World Market, and more.
For PayPal sellers, Happy Returns is now available at no additional charge, but PayPal’s checkout fee still applies. Traders can use the software and portals to manage their returns and exchanges within the US without even having to use a network of return bars. The company says.
“While consumers are more likely to shop online, returns are often a ‘personal’ experience and are costly and difficult for merchants,” David Souby, vice president of Happy Returns by PayPal, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Ulta Beauty expands our personal delivery network and gives online shoppers more options for making returns. Return bars attract new customers to the store and give retailers a more cost-effective and practical way to manage return logistics.”
PayPal did not disclose how much it paid for the Happy Returns acquisition, but noted in an SEC filing that it was one of four acquisitions in 2021, excluding Pedley, that combined raised a total of $542 million. PayPal was previously a strategic investor in the company, which was valued at $55 million in a 2019 Series B, according to Pitchbook.
The Happy Returns service is designed to make it easier for small merchants to compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart, who can easily return their customers through their physical presence – Amazon as a whole. and various partners, as well as Walmart with its stores. The potential flood of visitors coming from Amazon return counters or offering in-store locker systems has spurred retailers such as Kohl’s and Stein Mart to embrace the enemy by serving Amazon return customers in their own stores.
Ulta tested the Happy Returns service earlier today and also said it was “encouraged” by the increase in store traffic and in-store engagement.