E-commerce: Returning parcels is not free – France

  • 1 free return mirage

  • Ordering an item in two or three copies to judge at home the perfect size and color: a frivolous gesture, for many online buyers, thanks to the free returns most online selling sites offer. With cool-down periods ranging from 30 days (Amazon, Sparto, etc.) to 100 days (Zalando, Sarinza, etc.), e-commerce allows you to test with peace of mind and only pay for what you choose to keep, the main advantage. How many apartments, during confinement, were not converted into true fitting rooms? Convenient, risk-free and risk-free.

    The policy has greatly benefited the sector. According to the report created by the Federation of E-Commerce and Distance Selling (Fevad), which includes more than 500 companies, 2.1 billion transactions related to the sale of products (excluding services and travel), were carried out in France, in 2021, a figure that increases by 16% over a year One. This represents 66.7 billion euros in trading volume.

  • 2 Expensive for brands

  • In this context, the decision by two major fast fashion companies, H&M and Zara, to end free shipping costs for mailed orders may come as a surprise. Does this turn of the face mean that online sales have been overshadowed by the volumes of revenue that they themselves generated?

    The economic argument is, without a doubt, important in the transformation that apparel e-commerce has begun. You must be very naive, in fact, to think that returning parcels, hitherto free for the consumer, is also free for the seller’s site. With fuel and carton prices on the rise, it is becoming more and more expensive to forward packages. Added to this, for the company, are the costs of renewing items that have been put back on the market. When their journey doesn’t end in the landfill…

  • 3 Environmental nonsense

  • In fact, the cost is the highest for the planet. Viewers who saw the report broadcast by Envoyé Spécial in France 2 on May 5 were shocked to discover that the package they thought they were sending to the nearest “market” warehouse was working, not back to square one, but an incomprehensible flight of several thousand kilometers. In this investigation, a GPS tracker, hidden in a coat purchased and returned to Zalando.fr, made seven stops in the Paris region before arriving in Germany and back in Belgium. With Amazon, the return package traveled 3000 km to be repacked at lower cost in Slovakia and back on the track…in the UK!

  • 4 photos to green

  • catastrophic carbon footprint. However, if they weren’t philanthropists, the e-commerce giants understood the marketing advantages of “greenwashing” (“washing the environment” in French). It is clear: that any company – and this is what pollutes it – has an interest in restoring its image and buying and publicizing responsible environmental behaviour. The risks, both commercial and environmental, are significant: the rate of return on textiles alone is estimated at around 30%, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Unaware of the “downside of all that parcel traffic,” 77% of French online shoppers declare that they reorder regularly, according to a consumer survey by Dutch company Sendcloud. It is an observation that led the CEO of the leading European company in integrated shipping solutions, Rob van den Heuvel, to claim, in April, the reduction of revenue streams associated with “the cost, even symbolic, at the expense of the consumer to return packages”.

  • 5 sarcastic post

  • Token, is the attribute that fits 95 cents for the post set by H&M and €1.95 deducted from the article amount reimbursed by Zara, after return by post (in-store returns remain free). Far from an estimated transportation cost of €7.60 – €12.50 for each returned and refurbished product, according to Sendcloud. Proof that we are only at the beginning of the journey and that “delivery is the nerve center of the trade war being played online,” according to Rob van den Heuvel.

  • 6 Good intentions come true

  • However: After the first 14 signatories, last year, to the Charter of Commitments to reduce the environmental impact of online commerce, 18 new companies, in mid-March, joined the dynamic pushed by the government. It is up to them to inform the consumer about the least polluting delivery methods, promote good ordering practices to reduce returns and reduce packaging and develop carbon-neutral delivery methods. The first follow-up committee will convene in July, and a progress report will be published each year.

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