ParcelLab has concluded that 100 of the largest retailers in the United Kingdom and Germany are not meeting the expectations of their customers. But keeping the customer at the centre of things is important to online commerce. 

Britain vs. Germany
© vladm /

What did ParcelLab find in their comprehensive study? One thing that retailers are failing to do for the customers is to provide any communication whatsoever during delivery (27% in the UK and 53% in Germany). Those who do almost never take care of the communication themselves. 91% of the top retailers in the UK and 85% in Germany let the carrier update their customer. 

Ecommercenews tells us that, in order to generate these results, ParcelLab placed actual orders with all 100 online shops in both countries. They then documented services offered before and after checking out. The comparisons between the UK and Germany found that, among other things, the UK outperformed Germany in shipping, with 65% of UK online retailers offering free shipping, compared with only 38% in Germany. Express delivery was available from 72% of UK retailers, whilst only 40% of German online stores offered it. In-store package collection was also more popular in the UK.

Germany didn't always take 2nd place, however. The popularity of parcel shops and lockers is much higher in the country right in the middle of Europe. 69% of retailers offered such collection methods, with only 20% of retailers in the UK taking advantage of these helping hands to delivery.

Germany Is Better In Transparency And Carrier Selection

Germany also scored better regarding transparency and the ability to select a carrier. Most online retailers in Germany display their partnered carriers on the website, whilst in the UK, only 38 of 100 retailers do it. It was also more common in Germany (21%) for consumers to choose their preferred carrier than it is in the UK (7%). 

Differences In Returning Things

A major difference between the German and British markets is definitely the way consumers return things. In the UK, it is very common (79%) for customers to return items purchased online at stationary stores. In Germany, this is a rarity, with only 1 in 10 stores offering the service. However, German shops are more likely to offer free returns (90%), with 61% offering free returns in the UK.

After-purchase Customer Journeys

The founder and CEO of ParcelLab, Tobias Buxhoidt feels that not personalizing after-sales support is the big issue in both markets: "This means they are potentially losing loyal customers as a result of sub-par after-sales support. When you consider that 70%-80% of shipping communications are opened, leaving communication of this part of the journey to the carrier is a missed opportunity for retailers from the UK and Germany. If these retailers want to stand out from their competitors, they need to focus more attention on the post-purchase customer journey."