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Don’t pay more for that t-shirt than your customer did, just to take it back.

New Venture Concept

NewLife is a product concept that converts costly online apparel returns into local secondary sales opportunities.


Unlock big wins for the business, the customers, and the planet.

The Basics

The return process in the fashion industry is highly costly. Moreover, the negative impact on the planet as a result of all the additional transportation and landfill processing is tremendous.

Our team of 4 sustainability enthusiasts came together in a USC class to develop this product concept that aims to improve the fashion returning process.


Product Designer

Organizer & Coordinator

Project Length

3 Months


Rachel Qian (Product Design)
Vinay Satish (Software Engineer)
Maya Omori (Brand Marketing)
Bryan Garcia (UI Design)

The problem Space

Online apparel returns are wasteful.

$100 billion of online merchandise is returned every year in the U.S..

25% of returns are discarded on average.

43% of all
e-commerce returns consists of apparels.

The current return process is flawed and inefficient.

Persona & Pain Points

After talking to more than 20 online shoppers and fashion business owners, we concluded the following key pain points:

Stakeholder 1: Online Shoppers

Ellie: The online shopper

About Ellie

Ellie is an avid online shopper. She buys 80% of her apparel online. She is also an enthusiast of sustainability issues. Ellie tries to avoid returning too many items but has to do it sometimes because things don’t always fit or match her expectations.

Ellie's Pain Points

  • Packing for returns is not easy, especially when she can not find a proper container.

  • Getting a refund takes a long time with some brands, which makes her frustrated.

  • Sometimes the return status is not transparent.

Stakeholder 2: Fashion Businesses

James: The business owner

About James

James is the co-founder of a fashion brand. The brand has one physical location as well as an online presence. He is constantly looking for a better way to handle returns. He struggles a lot with making returning less costly but at the same time maintain customer satisfaction.

James's Pain Points

  • Renting a big warehouse space to process and restock returns costs him a lot of money.

  • He has to send many returned pieces to landfill because of the conditions as well as the processing cost.

  • He established her brand with sustainability in mind, but it is just hard and costly to be sustainable as a business.

Problem Statement

The return process is costly, time-consuming, and environmentally damaging. Additionally, customers are dissatisfied with the inconvenience and lengthy refund processing.


How might we optimize return logistics to minimize customer effort and wait time for refunds, while simultaneously reducing the financial and environmental burdens for businesses?

Defining Success


The returning process should be more convenience and less time consuming for online shoppers.


Shoppers should be able to receive refunds at least as fast as typical return processes, ideally instantly.


Businesses should be able to reduce cost generated from transportation, rent, labor, and utilities involved in the return processes.


 The percentage of returns sent to landfill should decrease with the usage of NewLife.


The Solution - User Flow & Wireframes


Step 1: Return

Customers can access the NewLife return pages through all partner brands’ websites. No additional apps and accounts needed.

The customer starts the returning process by selecting items to be returned.

NewLife collects returning reasons to help businesses make improvements.

Once NewLife Shopping Bar is selected as the returning method, the customer can see a summary of sustainability impact.

The customer receives a QR code, which includes all the information the brand needs to process the return.


Step 2: Drop-off & Refund

Customers can access the NewLife return pages through all partner brands’ websites. No additional apps and accounts are needed.

The staff scans the QR code and checks the condition of the returned items.

A request is then instantly sent to the brand for approval. At the same time, local stock information is updated on the brand’s website.


Step 3: Local Resale

Customers can access the NewLife return pages through all partner brands’ websites. No additional apps and accounts are needed.

When items are available at a local NewLife Shopping Bar, another customer will see the option to pick up the item in the local NewLife Shopping Bar.

Now, thinking about NewLife’s stance in the market and its implementation...

How does NewLife compare to the market?

Competitor Comparison

How does NewLife make money?

Unit Economics

NewLife will mainly have 2 types of customers: brands with physical stores (brands like REI, Reformation, and Madewell) and online-only brands (DTC brands). They are charged differently in NewLife’s pricing plan: with $3 and $6 per return.

How profitable is NewLife?

3-Year Net Income Projection

Next Step & Reflection

We decided as a team not to pursue this venture concept further, for the following concerns:


Although in our 3-year financial projection, we expect to break even in the third year, we realized that because the operation still highly rely on human process and physical locations, it is not really scalable, especially in major cities like LA and New York where both can be costly.


Brands with physical stores are crucial to our concept because NewLife wants to make use of their spaces and in return bring them traffic. However, bigger brands such as REI and Reformation are not willing to make such a change as we present our landing page to them.

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