German companies offer a generous return policy

July 16, 2021 by
Sanne Leenders
return policy

Major online retailers in Germany are, in general, very generous when it comes to their return policy. Every second retailer extends its return period beyond the legal minimum. Moreover, 13% of e-commerce companies who specify a time period for remittances pay earlier than promised.

Returns in e-commerce are still one of the biggest annoyances. This is the case for consumers and online retailers. Companies need to process the return and pay the customer back. Meanwhile the customer needs to repack the unwanted goods and bring them to the post office.

Setting the tone for the return policy

Therefore, online retailers who want to score points with their customers, should offer a smooth returns experience. It turns out that many major online retailers in Germany do, as the latest study from ParcelLab shows.

One in two retailers offer a return period that is longer than what is legally required. This is most likely the result of many retailers just having followed suit after e-commerce giants. Amazon (30 days) and Zalando (100 days) set the tone with their return policies.

Furniture retailers are particularly generous

It seems that furniture retailers are particularly generous in this area. Among seventeen furniture retailers, almost three quarters let customers return items after three weeks. Number one is Ikea with a total of 365 days.

Fashion retailers also often give customers the opportunity to try the products for quite some time. 61% of fashion retailers in the Top 100 often offer their customers up to 30 days to think about whether they want to keep their purchase.

Removing the return labels

There is a clear trend in the processing of returns. Fewer and fewer retailers are adding return labels to their parcels. Instead they give customers the option of downloading a return label online. However, this does mean a bit of extra effort for the customers compared to just receiving the return label. Ultimately, this is compensated for by the retailer if customers are guided through the process in an understandable and transparent manner via a returns portal. Here they can simply choose between changing the item for a different size, complaint, or return. On the other hand, for online retailers, this procedure has the clear advantage. The returns portal helps them get an early overview of which goods will be coming back to them.

Being able to download the return label means customers have to print out the label themselves. Only a few retailers with a return portal give their customers the choice of whether they want to print out the label themselves or to generate a corresponding barcode that can be scanned at the parcel shop.

Return portals are still limited

ParcelLab thinks that return portals are still quite limited in their functionalities. Customer feedback is essential for optimizing return rates. Customers can now, for example, only choose between changing an item and getting a refund.

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