This Startup Lets You Return Online Purchases at Real-Life Kiosks

Happy Returns
Happy Returns / Happy Returns

Shopping online is always a gamble. What looks amazing in a perfectly-lit photo on the Internet rarely looks as good once you've taken it out of the box. And because returning goods purchased online isn't always simple or cheap, some consumers may feel dissuaded from e-shopping all together. Now, one new startup is looking to change that by combining the best of both retail worlds. 

As reported by Re/Code, Happy Returns aims to open physical kiosks at stores and malls across the country at which customers can exchange items purchased online for a full refund. By making it easier for shoppers to return their purchases, the startup believes they will encourage more people to shop online. The plan is to make their profits by charging retail sites a fee for each item that's returned. This could end up saving everyone money in the long run, as shipping multiple returns at once would be cheaper than having each customer mail back their items individually. 

Happy Returns is the brainchild of founders David Sobie and Mark Geller, who've already raised $1.9 million in seed funding for the company. They had both worked for Nordstrom in the past, and their time there served as the inspiration for their latest business venture. When Nordstrom acquired the flash-sale site HauteLook in 2011, they gave online shoppers the choice to return sales at one of the chain's physical discount locations. According to Sobie and Geller, providing the customer with this extra option led to a boost in HauteLook's sales. 

In addition to being good for e-commerce sites, Happy Returns could also have a positive impact on brick-and-mortar stores. The company believes their kiosks would eventually generate enough foot traffic in shopping malls to justify charging them to use their spaces and not the other way around. And with some experts predicting as many as half of the nation's shopping malls to fail within 20 years, they're going to need all the help they can get.

As of now, Happy Returns is still a far way off from being able to set up shop rent-free. They'll soon be launching a test run on the second floor of the Santa Monica Place shopping mall, where shoppers will be able to take items they purchased in their pajamas from and return them to a real-life human being. 

[h/t Re/code]