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Ecommerce shipping in Germany 2018

A new study focuses on the strengths and potential capabilities in checkout, shipping and returns of the 100 largest online shops in Germany. It shows that online retailers are throwing away millions of euros in potential sales every month, because after checkout retailers don’t focus on the customer anymore.

This is the most important conclusion from the report ‘E-Commerce Shipping Study 2018‘ by ParcelLab. The company looked at what services the largest online stores in Germany offer their customers when it comes to shipping and returns.

Customer centricity ends after checkout

It turns out that customer centricity, a hot item in ecommerce nowadays, ends after checkout. In other words: whenever customers have completed an online order, they have to seek information from the online retailer, rather than the other way around. And because of this, the major online retailers are throwing away millions of euros in potential sales every month, ParcelLab says.

Almost no choice in shipping service

In the top of ecommerce in Germany, customers seldom have the opportunity to choose which shipping service best suits their needs: customers of 79 percent of the top 100 online stores can’t choose between different providers. They have to accept the delivery service the ecommerce website operates with.

Only 10% German online retailers gives exact delivery date

Things aren’t much better when it comes to choosing a preferred delivery time. Only one in three retailers offer express delivery in addition to the standard option, and only 11 online retailers offered the option to have the products delivered on the same day. Besides, only ten percent of the retailers examined give an exact delivery date: the majority just leaves their customers in the dark and only give an estimated delivery date. In some occasions, this could cover a few days.

Just 13 percent offer free shipping

The study by ParcelLab also shows that only 13 out of the 100 online retailers offer free shipping, while  38 offer free shipping when a minimum order value is reached. And when customers do need to pay for their delivery it isn’t cheap: the average shipping costs are 4.79 euros.

Another interesting finding is that only a quarter of the online retailers show shipment tracking in their own store. But what’s even more surprising is that a same number of online retailers, 24, had a parcel tracking number sent to the customer which led to the error message “Tracking number not known”.

ParcelLab ordered something at the top 100 retailers in Germany and also tried to send the parcel back. It shows that 13 shops expect customers to organize a return label themselves, while half hand out a return label in the original package. A positive note: 90 percent of the major online retailers in Germany let customers return items free of charge. Less positive is that 27 retailers took more than a week to return the money. “A poor returns experience”, according to ParcelLab.

“The analysis shows that while customer centricity may have top priority when designing online shops, when it comes to shipping, however, the focus is on getting parcels to customers as cheaply and efficiently as possible for the retailer”, the company concludes.

Lidl is overall winner

In the extensive study, ParcelLab also looked at which of the top 100 retailers performed best in different categories. Lidl is the overall winner, while Douglas has the best checkout experience. According to ParcelLab, MediaMarkt offers the best shipping process, while Zalando is best for returns and AO is the best option for a flawless delivery.

Other interesting findings from the study

  • 79 of the German top 100 online shops use DHL to deliver their goods
  • 46 percent only offer 1 carrier
  • The most popular alternative delivery option is delivery to a parcel locker
  • 40 percent offer express delivery, while only 11 percent offer same-day-delivery
  • 63 percent rely on carrier to provide track & trace page
  • 53 percent don’t communicate with customers during shipping
  • 34 percent don’t inform customer they have received the returned item

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