Traders must provide more detailed information about the current status


  • E-commerce shipping study 2020 from parcelLab: Online retailers need to better inform customers of the shipping status.
  • The study was the second time in a row the shipping services of the hundred largest German online shops (according to EHI) analyzed.
  • Every fourth online retailer in Germany ships after the order confirmation only a single email to the customer, which is not enough for customer uncertainty by Corona.

The expectations of customers are quite simple: When they order online, they want one thing above all, to receive their order quickly and conveniently, and in the best case informed about the shipping status will. But with the Operations Experience – that is, the processing of the order after clicking the buy button until it is returned – there are considerable differences among retailers.

Communicating the shipping status is important

This is shown by the current "E-Commerce Mail Order Study 2020" for which parcelLab, specializing in operations experience and customer communication, placed test orders for the second time in autumn 2019 from one of the largest German online retailers. It was analyzed how service-oriented dealers are at Selection of the logistician and customer communication during shipping are whether the parcels arrive on time and how quickly returns can be refunded.

Operations Experience is crucial, particularly in the Covid 19 crisis

The “E-Commerce Mail Order Study 2018” already showed that after clicking the buy button, the retailers leave their customers in a kind of black box. Many do not know the status of their order, where their package is, when it will be delivered or from which neighbor they can pick it up. But this information is particularly important in times of crisis such as Covid-19. Because due to the Shutdowns of the shops and the resulting order boom in online retail, customers no longer have to wait three to four days for their order as was previously the case, but often several weeks.

In addition, the product detail pages of the web shops no longer provide reliable information about how long the delivery time will actually be. The level of uncertainty among customers as to how quickly they receive their order is correspondingly high. And it is equally important that retailers inform their customers in real time when the status of the order changes. But the Analysis of the hundred largest German online shops shows: Although shipping communication has become more of a focus of retailers compared to 2018, most online retailers still have room for improvement.

Shipping status
Image source: parcelLab

Logistics service providers provide information about shipping status

It should be noted positively that the number of retailers who do not hear anything after ordering has decreased from eleven to nine compared to 2018. But a quarter of the retailers still end the shipping communication after a message – probably with that Confirmation of receipt of the order. The customers of the shop operators wait in vain for information that the order has now been sent, that the goods are being delivered today, that the delivery has been delayed, that the goods have been handed over to a neighbor or that the return has been received by the dealer.

But retailers who send shipping messages can also optimize them. Because ideally, the leader Tracking link for parcel trackingg not to the logistician's side, but back to his own shop. There, retailers can explain to their customers in their own words the status of the order. And they can use the potential for cross-selling and upselling. As the parcelLab study shows, only 30 retailers took the opportunity in the test and guided customers who want to track their package back to their own store. The vast majority of 61 dealers left this important part of customer communication to their logisticians.

Hardly a trace of parcel delivery from service

The parcelLab study shows that there is also room for improvement when it comes to operations experience, as only a little less than a fifth of the largest online shops allow their customers to choose between different logistics companies. Compared to the previous year, the number of retailers who give their customers the freedom to choose has even decreased by two.

Another striking result of the study: The Delivery times Even before the Corona crisis, the web shops were vague rather than binding. Almost a third of the dealers gave no specific delivery date, the rest stated an average delivery time of 3.26 working days. And even before the big rush to the online shops, their delivery speed decreased.

The proportion of online shops in Germany that deliver to their customers by express or even on the same day has decreased significantly compared to the previous year's study. In 2018, 40 of the top shops offered this Express delivery now, there are only 25 left. For same-day delivery, the rate dropped from eleven to three. However, customers no longer have to dig that deep for a preferred delivery. The surcharges for express delivery fell year on year from an average of EUR 10.20 to EUR 9.63.

Returns debate leaves online retailers cold

Another result of the study is that online retailers are not yet taking part in the returns discussed in the media in online retail Fee increasesn have responded. 93 retailers continue to offer free returns. However, the dealers put more obstacles in the way of their customers when processing returns than before. 60 of the top 100 retailers refrain from adding return labels to their packages. Instead, customers have to actively organize them.

parcellab Anton Eder
Anton Eder is one of the three founders of parcelLab.

"Many customers complain about a bad experience when shipping their orders or returns – that was before Corona, that was true during Corona and that will still apply after Corona," explains parcelLab co-founder Anton Eder. Customers would not expect any premium services such as same-day delivery or collection of returns. "Even proactive communication that clearly informs the customer about the current status of the ordering process and the shipping status can make a decisive difference in the customer experience," said the expert for operations experience.

Also read: Parcel volumes in the Corona crisis: These sectors benefit particularly