Staples is taking a page out of Kohl’s playbook with its recent partnership with Optoro.
Optoro’s reverse logistics solution will allow consumers to return products sold by other retailers at any one of Staples’ more than 1000 store locations and get credit for returned items through a QR code on their phone.
The return service is being dubbed Express Returns and the two companies plan to have it up and running by January 2021 — in time for the peak return period of the upcoming holiday season, according to Forbes.
Staples’ decision to turn its store locations into drop off sites follows that of Walgreens and Nordstrom that have rolled out similar initiatives in a bid to drive traffic to their stores. However, Kohl’s was the first player to offer the service when it began accepting Amazon returns at its brick and mortar stores in January 2021.
“Buy online, return in store is actually a key driver to profitability in e-commerce,” said Adam Vitarello, president and cofounder of Optoro. “If you can encourage more buy online, return in store – if you can go from 10% to 50% to 80% – it can literally change your economics of e-commerce.”
For Walgreens, facilitating in-store returns for other brands is a strategy that especially holds more value now since shoppers are continuing to avoid brick and mortar stores.
“Now that everyone’s going online, it’s highlighting the differences between brick and mortar and online and maybe the biggest difference between brick and mortar and online is returns. It’s way more complicated. You have to figure out how to package it up, how to get the label, when’s my refund going to come, do I want to do an exchange,” he said.
While more details on the Express Returns program are yet to come, Optoro works with several major retailers such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Under Armour, which opens up Staples’ opportunity to attract a diverse group of consumers to its store locations.