More online stores charging customers for returns
More online stores will start charging customers for their returns. Customers returning products they are unhappy with cost online stores 725 million euros per year, and that amount continues to rise. Wehkamp will start charging 50 cents per return on Monday, De Telegraaf reports after surveying online retailers.
In 2021, online stores processed almost 58 million return packages. The number of parcel deliveries fell 11 percent last year, but returns remained a massive cost item for many online stores that charge no or minimal return costs. Clothing and shoes, in particular, are returned often as customers order various sizes to try on at home.
“In most categories, about 5 percent of orders are returned. But for clothing, that is over 30 percent,” said Marlene ten Ham, director of the branch organization Thuiswinkel.org. “Processing a return package costs the webshop an average of 12.50 euros. That is why they benefit from minimizing returns.”
Wehkamp’s 50 cents per return cost is, therefore, mostly a symbolic amount. Where warehouse robots mainly handle outgoing packages, returns need actual employees to assess the items. “Every day, about 150 people process the return packages for us,” a Wehkamp spokesperson told the Telegraaf. “The processing per return item is around 2 euros. Of course, the 50 cents we now charge does not cover the return and shipping costs. We hope this will make our customer think, and we will keep a close eye on the effect.”
Wehkamp is one of the first online stores to start charging for returns and may be setting a trend, transport economist Albert Jan Swart of ABN Amro told the newspaper. According to consumer watchdog ACM, about 10 percent of delivery vehicle trips are due to returns.
Deliverers PostNL and DHL would welcome initiatives that reduce the mountain of returns they have to handle. “Charging an amount for returns can help to clear up the misunderstanding that delivery is free,” a PostNL spokesperson said.