The best kept secret in e-commerce is out. Here’s Zalando’s official return rate:

23 Jan, 2013



One of the industry’s best kept secrets – until now – was Zalando’s return rate. Return rates are a crucial metric for e-commerce’s health. Now, Rubin Ritter, managing director of Zalando, let the cat out of the bag, saying:

“A world without returns would be nice, but it’s unrealistic. For us, the question is: can the business be profitable with returns? And we are certain that we can. And to end the discussion, I will tell you: the overall return rate for Zalando is 50 per cent.” (source: Die Welt via deutsche-startups.de)

Zalando always denied suffering from higher than average return rates. But according to Kathleen Fasanella, editor of trade blog fashion-incubator, the usual return rate for e-commerce is between 17 and 25 %: “It ranges from 17% to 25%. Zappos which practically begs consumers to return stuff, averages 25%.” (Quora)

A 20 percent return rate is also what I found in this LinkedIn Answers thread.

These estimates seem on the low side, though. This article, with quotes from Craig Adkins, VP of operations at Zappos, puts Zappos’ return rate at 35 percent, but says that some customers return up to 50 %. It goes on to say that Zappos “loves those customers”:

That’s because those consumers tend to purchase from among Zappos’ most expensive lines of footwear, then happily take advantage of the e-retailer’s generous and well-publicized returns policy: Zappos not only will take back any item within 365 days of delivery, but also pays for the return shipping.
If you have more information on average return rates, and what this could mean for Zalando’s profitability, please send me a message. Thanks.
Photo: pheesy, Flickr

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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