What if unwanted online purchases didn’t have to be returned?
If a returned item is going to be thrown out anyway, why not refund the customer and let them keep it?
That’s the premise behind Returnly’s Green Returns, whereby the customer is refunded without being required to return the original item.
At this point, such “returnless refunds” are aimed at “beauty and intimates retailers that are often required to dispose of used and opened products that pose a potential health risk.”
The service is called Green Returns because it eliminates the eco-cost from extra packaging and delivery. Concerns have heightened over the environmental impact of online selling and returns overall. Returnly cited findings by Optoro that five billion pounds of returns end up in landfills every year.
In addition to the potential green benefits, consumers get other perks:
- No return hassles: Not having to box up and mail any online return.
- Quicker refunds: As part of Returnly’s standard offering, consumers earn immediate store credit at the place they bought the product. Consumers receive quick cash refunds as well versus waiting for the returned item to be fully processed. For credit cards, typically a few days are required for the “returnless” refund to be credited back.
- Free re-gifting: Consumers can give the item to a friend or family member to enjoy instead.
Retailers avoid the cost and effort spent with a return, may see a sales benefit from offering immediate store credit, and earn goodwill from the eco-friendly step and consumer perks.
The service is possible because Returnly’s core offering enables retailers to offer immediate store credit. Returnly assumes the risk on the return and offers 85 percent of customers store credit on average, on the spot, according to a Forbes article. In most cases, the consumer promises to return the item.
While not stated policy, the internet is full of tales of customer service reps at Amazon.com, Walmart and Chewy.com, among others, telling customers to keep or donate an item they wanted to return and still receive a refund. Some such decisions seem to factor in the cost of returning and processing the item for resale.
- Returnly Makes Online Returns for Beauty & Intimates Friendlier for Shoppers and the Planet – Returnly
- ‘Returnless Refunds’: Is Retail Ready? – Women’s Wear Daily
- A Max Levchin-Backed Startup Raises $19 Million To Tackle Online Returns – Forbes
- Returnly Raises the Bar on Shopper Experience with $19M Series B from David Sacks’ Craft Ventures and Max Levchin – Returnly/Business Wire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you assess the pros and cons of offering refunds for unwanted online purchases without requiring a physical return? Do you see the service working as a standard procedure for certain categories or more of a rare perk to support loyalty?