Nearly $761 billion worth of merchandise is returned to online retailers annually, according to the National Retail Federation. Milwaukee-based startup Returns on Demand wants to make returning those millions of packages as easy as possible for consumers.
Founded by local entrepreneurs Dustin Conrad and Scott Allen, RoD offers consumers an on-demand service that picks up, processes and delivers online shopping returns to UPS, FedEx and USPS locations.
The RoD app allows online shoppers to schedule a pickup date and time. Each package is then picked up by a driver and the app notifies the user. The app also allows shoppers to keep track of online orders and lets them know of expiring return windows. Users can sync RoD with their email, and their previous purchases appear in the app.
“We want consumers to enjoy the returns process so they can feel free to buy more online,” said Conrad.
He has been in the business world for almost 30 years, with most of that time being spent in health care and consulting. However, Conrad does have some past startup experience.
Allen began his career in the world of startups and specializes in the areas of logistics and technology. He helped found a company called Barcode Resources in Milwaukee in 1990. It was one of the first companies to use barcodes to track products through distribution centers, according to Allen.
Conrad and Allen grew up together and lived about five houses away from each other as kids.
In February of 2020, Allen — whose family is big on online shopping — needed to return a snowboard. This turned out to be an arduous process as he had to drive 15 miles in negative 10-degree weather to stand in a line at a local FedEx store for an hour. And he spent part of that wait time outside.
“I had had it,” said Allen. “I called Dustin and said, ‘The world is becoming an on-demand world. Why can’t we have an on-demand service that will solve this problem?’”
Development of the RoD app took about a year and a half. So far, the RoD app, available in the Apple Store and via Google Play, has hundreds of downloads. Conrad said the download number is growing by double-digit percentages each week.
RoD is partnering with Atlanta-based Roadie, a company that can be likened to the Uber of delivery drivers, for the pickup of packages. Roadie was acquired by UPS in 2021.
RoD has already raised a pre-seed funding round worth more than $500,000.
Founders: Dustin Conrad and Scott Allen
Service: An app for on-demand pickup of online shopping returns
Experience: Past experience with startups, logistics and technology