Research shows Webshop owners cannot charge return costs

Research: Webshop owners cannot charge return costs

Webshop owners hardly dare to ask for money for returning packages. And if they dare, it's often not allowed. This is evident from research by FiveX, a data provider for webshops. Webshop owners would prefer to stop free returns because it costs money, is bad for the environment, and leads to waste.

Mostly completely free

Of the 146 surveyed webshop owners, almost 85% do not charge processing costs for a return. They pay these costs out of their own pocket. 75% of them would like to pass on the return costs to the customer. The main reason for not charging return costs is that sellers are not allowed to do so because they are platform sellers. The platforms – such as or Amazon – determine the return rules. But webshop owners also keep each other in check. Because almost no one charges return costs, they are afraid that customers will switch to competitors as soon as they start asking for money.

‘Time to join forces’

‘Because of this stranglehold, it's very difficult to independently decide to stop offering free returns,’ says Kevin van der Eijk, founder of FiveX. ‘But, that doesn't mean nothing should be done. The major webshops, trade associations, and platforms like Bol and Amazon can take the lead on this, and it will have an impact. And if they don't, politics should take action. From the perspective of sustainability, both for society and for the financial health of webshops, return costs are a no-brainer.

’Revenue doesn't suffer from paid returns

Of the surveyed webshops that do charge return costs, the majority (60%) surprisingly didn't notice any impact on revenue. The additional income from return costs was approximately equal to the missed income from some sales. Just over 1 in 6 (16.7%) experienced a negative effect, but 25% even experienced a positive effect. The additional income from return costs was higher than the lost income from fewer sales.

From €0.50 to the price of a parcel

Ideally, webshops would charge €2 (28.4%) or €5 (18.9%) for a return, or the actual shipping costs (28.4%). A large group (14.9%) also prefers not to deal with the return shipment but simply let the customer pay for the return themselves. €0.50 (the return costs charged by Wehkamp, the only major webshop that consistently uses this system) and €1 are mentioned the least (4.1% and 5.4% respectively).

Customer is king

The customer-is-king mentality also plays a role for some of the webshop owners. About 10% of them indicate that they do not want to charge return costs on principle; they consider free returns to be part of their service and customer orientation.About this researchThis research was conducted by FiveX, a business management tool for e-commerce sellers on platforms like, Amazon, and WooCommerce, allowing sellers to efficiently manage their businesses.The survey was conducted among 146 webshop owners who were approached via advertisements on LinkedIn or were subscribers to the company's newsletter. The surveyed webshop owners operate in various industries and sell products at different price points, allowing for a representative picture of the entire market.

Note for editors, not for publication:For more information about this research, please contact Kevin van der Eijk, via [email protected] or +3185 888 6440