German serial-returners returned one in sixth purchases in 2018

No primary category set

German serial-returners returned 487 million goods last year, says research from the University of Bamberg.

According to the study, consumers in Germany are increasingly embracing the serial-returns culture, shoppers who regularly buy and return items. Last year saw Germans returning every sixth item they’ve purchased.

The research calculated that Germans returned 280 million packages and 487 million items last year.

This results in an estimated total cost of 5.46 billion euros, which on the one hand will carry customers through higher market prices, on the other hand, burden the margins of e-commerce retailers. The usually granted in the market withdrawal period of 28 days is well beyond the statutory 14 days. But the returns also put a strain on the climate – as much as 2200 car trips a day from Hamburg to Moscow or 238,000 tonnes of CO2 last year.”
– Björn Asdecker, research group, Returns Management

The study concludes by pointing to the reality of returns, which means that some have to be binned after a shopper has returned them. It says that some 4% of the returns go straight in the garbage.

On the other hand, the majority (79%) of returns are sold as A-Grade, full-price items with a warranty, with 13% listed as B-Grade, discounted products which are subject to a full warranty. Some 3% of the returns are sold to industrial recyclers or donated to charities.

Do you have the same experience selling on German marketplaces, or are you getting fewer stock returns compared to the number highlighted in the study?

4 Responses

  1. Automotive / Vehicle parts have a traditionally high returns rate of around 25% due to more than one part fitting any single application. We built a site that analyses part data in order highlight the differences. Should reduce returns caused by incorrect purchases down to 0

  2. Wont be long before its a 100%
    In the UK
    If ebay have their way
    Banging on about free returns in the tv adverts

  3. @Jim not sure about the 100% but the easier you make returns the higher it will get.

    Clothing obviously have the highest returns due to item not fitting correctly or simply because the buyer does not like it when they try it on. They have cut down on the people wearing items and returning them.

    The other problem some stores have is that they insist on you spending £X amount for free delivery but allow free returns for items not wanted.

    Not sure what you want? Just order everything and send back what you don’t like.

    All of this is no surprise, it just reflects what people do in shops, pick things up to look at, then put them down. Although many clothing retailers will restrict you on the amount of items you can take to the changing room.

    Many females will buy items of clothing for their partners and then take them back if they do not fit or they do not like them.

  4. We charge a Euro or so extra on German market places to cover this.

    If you can’t maybe not worth selling in Germany at all, because if your based on UK pricing I’d expect margins to be very very tiny if any at all due due to all the Chinese sellers forcing vat free shopping and prices.

    I don’t think I’ve seen prices under so much pressure over the last 10 years.


Pile ou Face success in lost package lucky dips

Pile ou Face success in lost package lucky dips

Amazon Consumer Electronics shortened Returns window

Amazon Consumer Electronics shortened Returns window

Strategising Returns: Balancing Policies and Customer Experience

Strategising Returns: Balancing Policies and Customer Experience

Online Sellers Face Returns Headache in Post-Holiday Period

Online Sellers Face Returns Headache in Post-Holiday Period

Half of shoppers loyal to retailers with free returns

Half of shoppers loyal to retailers with free returns

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.


Take a look through a selection of the latest articles on ChannelX

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars