Here's what you need to know about EU parcel return rates

31 October, 2017

E-commerce returns can be a costly business for retailers. According to Clear Returns, the cost of returned items purchased online is £20 billion to UK businesses.

Processing returns and getting the products back into the supply chain can be double or even triple the cost of shipping that item out in the first place. So, for any online business, e-commerce returns are a necessary part of life that need to be factored into strategy and planning.

Customer behaviours are changing

Today, consumers expect to be able to make returns as part of the shopping process. So, for example, the practice of “intentional returns” has been developed whereby customers order multiple sizes or colours knowing that at least one will have to be returned. As expectations have grown that e-commerce returns will now be cheap or free, customers build into their shopping experience the fact that they won’t keep everything that they buy.

Return rates are substantial across the EU

According to Twenga Solutions, e-commerce returns rates are high right across the EU. 81% of people in the UK shop online and almost a third have returned an item in the last year. Rates in other countries vary – in Germany, for example, 41% of consumers have returned an item in the past year. In the Netherlands the rate is 36% while in France 24% of customers have engaged in e-commerce returns in the past 12 months. Some of the lowest rates in the EU for e-commerce returns come from Poland where only 11% of customers have returned an item in the past 12 months.

Some sectors are more impacted than others

E-commerce returns are expected to rise across the board but there are some sectors where they are already higher. Fashion retail is where you’re likely to find the highest number of returns – and where the figures for e-commerce returns are likely to keep rising. Most fashion retailers are prepared for this - Nick Beighton, chief executive of UK retailer Asos told the Financial Times “Our returns in the last four months has moved up 2 per cent, which is in line with what we’re expecting.” Sports and travel equipment, as well as health and beauty, are also market segments where e-commerce returns tend to be quite sizeable.

E-commerce returns rates are not likely to drop

For UK retailers exploring new markets across the EU, being able to efficiently process and handle e-commerce returns is crucial to service and margin. For many this means working with an experienced fulfilment partner with the resources and networks to keep costs down and customer service experience constant.


Asendia offer a range of solutions to give you and your customers greater control over returns.

Choose from a full range of returns services matching the requirements of your cross-border e-commerce business, including services such as tracking and content checking.

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