The study shows that online retailers are missing out on millions in sales every month, because after checkout, many online retailers simply don't worry about the customer anymore. Conducted by ParcelLab, this was the most critical conclusion from the study. 

German Online Shopping
© xtock /

Thanks to ParcelLab, there are some new insights into 2018's customer journey that will help us with customer service in the future. Which services do Germany's largest online stores offer their customers when it comes to shipping and returns? reports:

Notifications Are Key

Keeping customers at the centre of our digital universe is very important. Customers shouldn't have to hunt down information on their orders, spending their time figuring out when shipments are arriving or how long it will take for a refund to be paid out. Online retailers need to become experts at notifying their customers at every step of the journey after the purchase has been made. This causes retailers to lose out on potential sales, because one-time customers aren't going to come back to shop if they had to take time from their busy schedules to find out what is going on with their orders.

Choice Of Shipping Services

One would think that, at the top of e-commerce in Germany, customers would have their choice of shipping service that best suits their needs. This is not the case. 79% of the top 100 online stores don't give the customer the option of choosing the shipping service they like best. Customers are, more often than not, stuck with the service the online retailer works with.

Exact Delivery Dates Lacking

Choosing a preferred delivery time also has a lot to be desired. Only 10% of German online retailers give exact delivery times, with only 1 in 3 retailers offering express delivery in addition to standard delivery. Only 11 online retailers have the option of same-day delivery. The vast majority of retailers don't give any information at all as to when the shipment will be delivered. Only an estimated delivery date is given, usually covering days.

Free Shipping?

Only 13 of 100 online retailers offer free shipping, with 38 of them in the top 100 offering free shipping when a minimum order value has been reached. Adding insult to injury, delivery is expensive, with the average order costing €4.79.

ParcelLab's study also showed that only a quarter of online retailers offer shipment tracking in their own stores. 24 of these online retailers had a parcel tracking number for the customers which turned out to be useless, leading to a "tracking number not known" error message.

Returns & Refunds

ParcelLab actually ordered goods at the top 100 retailers in Germany, also trying to send parcels back to the retailer. 13 shops expected customers to organise their own return labels, whilst half of the retailers supply a return label in the original packaging. On a much more positive note, 90% of the major German online retailers let customers return items free of charge. On the other hand, 27 retailers took more than a week to give a refund.

Lidl On Top

In this all-encompassing study, ParcelLab also ranked the top 100 retailers, taking all the different categories into account. Lidl was the best overall winner, with Douglas boasting the best checkout experience. MediaMarkt had the best shipping process, with Zalando having the best handling of the returns process. AO scored the top place for exemplary delivery.

An Overview Of The Findings

Here is a quick overview of the findings according to

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

It's very important for online retailers to constantly improve their processes. In other words, every part of the customer journey is important. Making the journey a smooth and positive experience will keep customers returning to shop.