4 minutes

Shein online orders can be returned at any Forever 21 retail location through Happy Returns' new BORIS offering.

Shein customers can now return online orders at Forever 21 stores, the retailers jointly announced. The new buy online, return in store (BORIS) option is powered by reverse logistics company Happy Returns.

Happy Returns, which UPS acquired in 2023, manages returns for online retailers through kiosks called Return Bars. Customers use Return Bars to send back purchases from online retailers. The vendor says it has more than 10,000 locations, many of which are through partnerships with retail chains Ulta, Petco and Staples.

The relationship with Shein and Forever 21 is unique because it can facilitate returns across brands, Happy Returns said.

“Over the past eight years, we’ve developed cross-brand box-free returns from an innovative idea to an enterprise-grade solution,” said David Sobie, co-founder and CEO of Happy Returns. “Now, we’re leveraging our technology, expertise and scale in reverse logistics to be the first to enable retailers to seamlessly accept returns throughout their full networks.”

Shein is No. 2 in Digital Commerce 360’s database ranking ecommerce retailers in Asia by online sales. The online apparel retailer was valued at $66 billion in May 2023 when it closed its latest funding round. Forever 21 ranks No. 105 in the Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest online retailers in North America. 


How Forever 21 and Shein returns work

Shein and Forever 21 joined their businesses together in 2023. Shein acquired a stake in Forever 21’s parent company, Sparc Group. Sparc also took a minority stake in Forever 21, connecting the two apparel brands.

Shein customers can return purchases at any of Forever 21’s more than 300 continental U.S. locations. When they do, they also receive a same-day coupon they can use at the store.

“SHEIN is very excited for this partnership, which has shown strong results in the early days of launch with hundreds of SHEIN shoppers per day completing returns at their local Forever 21 store,” a Shein spokesperson told Digital Commerce 360 by email.

Facilitating returns across brands is more complex than carrying out the same transaction with one brand, Sobie said. Forever 21 and Shein each have their own technology systems that have to integrate together. When the Forever 21 cashier scans the return QR code, the point-of-sale system has to work with the Shein item to process the transaction, he said. Then, Shein orders have to be correctly shipped back.


Sobie said he will consider this pilot as a success based on adoption rates and feedback from scores. First, Happy Returns will look at how often Shein customers choose to return at Forever 21 stores compared to other options. Then, they’ll also consider how many of those customers making returns also make purchases at Forever 21.

“What is Forever 21 getting out of this?” he posed. Well, they get all these new people coming in to make returns, which is valuable, but it’s really valuable that they buy something.”

Finally, feedback from stores will tell Happy Returns how the technology is working and identify any pain points noticed by employees handling the returns.

Happy Returns and UPS

UPS paid $465 million to acquire Happy Returns from PayPal last year. Being a part of UPS was crucial to forging this partnership with Shein and Forever 21, Sobie said.


“The nice thing about being part of UPS is that we’re in conversations with everyone,” he said. “It pretty much has a relationship with every merchant that we want to work with.”

UPS also gives Happy Returns more credibility with retailers, he said.

“Can you as a startup handle working with these two massive companies, and is there risk associated with that if you’re a startup? There definitely is, but if you’re part of UPS, I think this company, this technology, the services are validated,” Sobie explained.

What’s next for Happy Returns

Shein is one of the first to adopt this cross-brand BORIS solution, but Sobie said there’s potential for similar programs with other retailers.


Happy Returns primarily works with apparel and footwear retailers, and this year, its main goal is to serve the largest enterprise brands in those areas. This BORIS program with Shein and Forever 21 will serve as a case study for other retailers, he said.

Sobie cited major retail brands, including Gap, Deckers and Nike, as leaders in the space who could potentially benefit from the pilot.

“Those brands all have stores, and they all sell online, but you know what they don’t do? They don’t do cross-brand returns,”  he stated. “They don’t do buy from one brand in the portfolio and return at stores from other brands in the portfolio. Why is that? Because it’s really hard.” 

Do you rank in our databases? 

Submit your data and we’ll see where you fit in our next ranking update.


Sign up

Stay on top of the latest developments in the ecommerce industry. Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 Retail News. Follow us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook. Be the first to know when Digital Commerce 360 publishes news content.