Germany is the European returns champion – the return rate is up to 75 percent. This could change soon. Because the first companies are introducing a return fee. But not all online retailers want to go this route.
The Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order (BEVH) announces a turnaround in online fashion retail. The boom of the Corona years is generally over. "With fashion, there is an additional difficulty," said a spokesman for the "Süddeutsche Zeitung", "that we expect an end to free returns, which have been common practice up to now and which customers also expect." He cited increased costs as the reason: "The high prices for transport and packaging mean that retailers are passing these costs on to customers to a greater extent."
Last year, the largest Japanese clothing retailer, Uniqlo, introduced a return fee of EUR 2.95 per package. A few days ago, Zara, the best-known fashion chain of the Spanish Inditex group, followed suit with a return fee of EUR 1.95 per return.
Marco Atzberger, returns expert at the Cologne trade research institute EHI, advocates returns that are subject to a fee: "That's the right way," he told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung". Björn Asdecker, head of the returns management research group at the University of Bamberg, also welcomes the fees. "Maybe there's a start now," he said. "Fortunately, from my point of view, there is actually movement in the market."
Germany is the European returns champion. According to the EHI, the return rate is up to 75 percent, with fashion at least every second package being returned on average.
The German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association expects other companies to follow. "If return shipping costs remain high, Zara and Uniqlo will be the first, but not the last, to pass the cost on to their customers," the spokesman said.
Upon request, Amazon, Zalando and Otto announced that they did not intend to charge for returns. "We will definitely not ask our customers to pay extra for paid returns at a time when they are additionally burdened by the rise in energy and various goods," said a spokesman for the Otto Group.