E-commerce 2021: shipping in Germany

February 12, 2021 by
Sanne Leenders

Online shops in Germany have done a solid job in terms of shipping online orders to customers, says Ecommerce News. Last year, was a difficult year due to the sudden peak in e-commerce. However, a new study from ParcelLab shows that most things went well, placing test orders at 100 of the largest online shops in Germany to examine the entire shipping process carefully.

DHL alone reported a new record of 1.8 billion delivered parcels due to the massive flood of parcels in 2020. Online retailers tried more than ever to distribute the load between different logistics companies. The share of e-commerce players who deliver goods through more than one carrier has risen from 51% to 57%. This also means that still 43% of large online retailers in Germany rely on only one carrier. Even at times when they are at maximum capacity.

Alternative logistics companies

Especially, alternative delivery companies gained popularity in 2020. The proportion of online retailers who, in addition to well-known companies such as DHL, Hermes, UPS, DPD, or GLS, also rely on other carriers. For example, Trans-o-flex, Dachser, Rhenus, or TNS, has increased by 11 percentage points to almost 21% last year.

Investment in logistics leads to fewer cases of free delivery

The completely unexpected peak in e-commerce last year caused online retailers to invest heavily in their logistics. Some e-commerce companies tried to amortize these costs through shipping fees. As a result, there were only fourteen retailers who generally ship items without any costs. One year before, there were twenty two of them.

A more specific delivery date

Another interesting result, is that the number of retailers who named a specific delivery date during the checkout process, while the COVID-19 outbreak took place, rose from 84 to 89. In most cases, the retailers kept these promises, according to ParcelLab. During the test period, which took place from mid-October to mid-November, about three-quarters of shipments (73%) were on time or even arrived earlier than announced. However, within a year the number of delayed shipments rose from 16% to 27%.

Meanwhile 97 of the 100 retailers send a link for parcel tracking with the delivery confirmation. Only 27 inform their customers that a parcel has been delivered. The study shows that half of the online buyers would like to receive this kind of message.

Becoming more sustainable

E-commerce companies are focusing more on environmental sustainability. Currently, respectively 47% of retailers adapt their package size to the product size and 46% do not use plastic as filling material. Last year, this was 29%.

“Given the challenges that online retailers completely unexpectedly had to face last year, the online shops did a solid job,” says Anton Eder, co-founder of ParcelLab. “Many first-time customers are pleasantly surprised by their online shopping experience. This is a good starting position for 2021 to really inspire customers in the next step,” he concludes.

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