One in four shipments from online purchases in Germany was returned last year. The estimate is for 530 million returns with 1.3 billion items. Returning goods is part of consumer protection. On the other hand, this policy new high costs for sellers, as well as a large carbon footprint, writes ecommerce news.
European Parcel Returns Champion
“Germany is the European champion in returns,” say economists from the University of Bamberg. They interviewed 411 managers of European retailers with an online turnover of around €60 million. In addition, they also evaluate data from associations for e-commerce, mail order, express delivery and similar services.
Returning products is easy
In 2021, Germans’ total orders for online goods are worth 99 billion euros. Of the 1.3 billion items that were returned, 91% were clothes or shoes. According to the research, only one in ten German online stores charge return fees. This is a significantly lower amount than in the rest of Europe, where every second shop charges a fee. This is one of the reasons why so many orders are returned.
The long period in which items can be returned is the other reason why Germans take advantage of returns.
Recycling of returned goods
The average cost of shipping and handling a return shipment is €6.95. German online retailers have a recycling policy for returned goods. The proportion of discarded goods in Germany is lower than in the rest of Europe, which makes return costs lower than with the competition. This leads to a competitive advantage for e-commerce in Germany.
While suppliers often try to minimize their carbon footprint, the German e-commerce industry is making less effort to reduce its environmental footprint. Less than 5% say their company monitors its carbon footprint, according to the survey.