business

Affirm, Pioneer in Buy Now, Pay Later, Acquires Online Returns Platform for $300M

Two hot trends in e-commerce are coming together in a $300 million deal. Affirm, a pioneer of the buy now, pay later model, has acquired Returnly, which specializes in making online returns more seamless. 
The match is a few years in the making, Affirm CFO Michael Linford told Cheddar. 
"We got to know Returnly back in their Series B. We were an investor in 2019 and had been watching the space pretty keenly." 
Since then, the growing dominance in e-commerce pushed Affirm to expand its offerings with the acquisition. 
"If you think about what's happened over the past year, you've seen a real explosion and continuation of trends in e-commerce, and returns is a key pain point in all e-commerce transactions," Linford said. 
Both companies offer consumers a chance to make purchases more seamless on either the front or back-end of a purchase.  Affirm allows buyers to purchase items immediately but pay for them in installments. Returnly gives buyers store credit immediately after deciding to make a return, whereas usually, a customer has to wait until a product is shipped back to the supplier. 
“We started Returnly to fix the broken returns model that offered consumers and merchants nothing but downside and frustration,” Eduardo Vilar, CEO and founder of Returnly, said in a press release. 
The startup said it serves more than 1,800 merchants and has processed more than $1 billion in returns. 
Stepping back to look at the macro picture, Linford said Affirm is well-positioned to take advantage of the continuing shift toward online shopping. 
"We are continuing to see the trend towards e-commerce benefiting us," he said.  
He pointed to a resurgence in weddings, travel, and other kinds of "revenge spending," as consumers amp up their spending with the reopening of the economy. He also stressed that Affirm is not just focused on small to mid-sized purchases, but also big-ticket items such as airline tickets. The company has struck partnerships with Delta and American Airlines. 
"The consumer's in good shape right now," Linford said. "We see a very healthy consumer in both demand — things they're looking to go buy — and stable credit performance."
Whatever happens in the economy, Linford said Affirm plans to help merchants adapt. 
"We're just making sure that we help merchants be positioned to take advantage of the economy no matter how consumers are choosing to engage," he said. "It's our job to meet the consumers where they are."
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