Staples takes in-store online returns, even from other retailers

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Happy Returns customer making a box-free return at a Staples retail location

Staples is partnering with in-person return service Happy Returns by PayPal in more than 1,000 of its retail locations across the U.S.

The office supply retail giant is entering a new collaboration to offer Happy Returns’ in-person return service at its stores. Starting in select states, and expanding throughout October, online shoppers from Happy Returns’ approved list of retail partners will now be able to return products in person at many Staples retail locations for an immediate refund or exchange, without needing to provide a box or a label. 

The new Happy Returns partnership with Staples U.S. Retail increases the number of Happy Returns “Return Bars” to over 3,800 locations. Happy Returns operates a network of Return Bar drop-off locations in over 1,200 metro areas across every state in the continental U.S., as well as in Washington, D.C.

Shoppers start the Happy Returns return process on participating retailers’ websites or at, and receive a QR code. They then bring the items — no box or receipt required — with the QR code to one of Happy Returns’ partner drop-off locations. According to Happy Returns, a typical return takes less than a minute, returns are approved in real-time, and the service initiates refunds and exchanges immediately in most cases. 

Happy Returns was acquired by digital payments giant PayPal in May 2021. In 2019, PayPal made a strategic investment in the start-up. 

[Read more: PayPal to buy Happy Returns, which helps shoppers return online purchases]

Other notable Happy Returns retail partners include major mall operator Simon, which is now providing the Happy Returns service, which enables shoppers to return online purchases at guest services counters for immediate refunds, at 52 malls across the country. The company began partnering with Happy Returns as a pilot program in five centers in 2017, and has been gradually expanding it since.

“Returns are an essential part of the shopping experience, particularly for online retail, and shoppers overwhelmingly prefer to return box-free in person rather than deal with the hassle and wait of returns by mail,” said David Sobie, VP, Happy Returns. “Our partnership with Staples U.S. Retail significantly increases the availability of in-person drop-off points for online shoppers and gives retailers a more cost-effective way to manage their reverse logistics.” 

“The way in which consumers shop and return items is fast-changing and we are excited to partner with Happy Returns to better support shoppers and merchants in need of comprehensive and convenient return solutions,” said Craig Grayson, VP, print & marketing services, Staples U.S. Retail. “Staples is a destination for all things shipping, especially for small businesses and remote workers. This partnership is a natural fit for us and we look forward to Staples retail locations becoming destinations for simple in-person return options.” 

Headquartered in Framingham, Mass., Staples operates more than 1,000 stores across the U.S., as well as over 300 Canadian stores under its Staples Canada subsidiary.