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H&M, Asos, Zalando introduce policies to reduce impact of delivery costs

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
today Apr 24, 2019
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After H&M, which is now allowing free deliveries to its ‘Plus’ customers only, and Asos, which is clamping down on serial returns, it is Zalando's turn to suppress free deliveries in some of its countries, starting from Italy, Ireland, Spain and the UK.


Delivery has always been one of the main cost items for e-commerce businesses - Shutterstock


According to Belgian newspaper Tijd, the new policy was introduced in Italy at the end of 2018, and was extended to other countries in the last few days. For purchases below €24.90, Zalando is now billing €3.50 for home delivery in Italy, and the equivalent (GBP3) in the UK, while it charges €3 in Ireland and €2.90 in Spain. Other countries, like Belgium and France, can still enjoy free delivery at home or to designated pick-up points, with the extra option of express 48-hour delivery for €9.95.

The German e-tail giant’s decision illustrates an underlying phenomenon which is seemingly affecting e-commerce across the whole of Europe. “Only Amazon has the resources to deliver for free at a loss,” is what industry operators in Europe have been quietly whispering to themselves for years. Operators who nevertheless have had to adapt to their customers’ increasingly stringent requirements in terms of deliveries. However, faced with the erosion of apparel sales across Europe, both brick-and-mortar retailers and pure players are now changing the way they promote their delivery options.

As was reported a few days ago by FashionNetwork.com, the H&M group decided to stop free deliveries, putting the symbolic threshold at purchases worth €25. An incentive for customers to increase their expenditure, while free deliveries are reserved only for the group’s ‘Plus’ customers, the equivalent of Amazon’s ‘Prime’ programme.

Asos has instead pledged to fight so-called serial returners, customers who order a large number of products in an array of sizes. Now, in the case of customers who return an excessive number of items, or if Asos suspects that some of the items sent back have been worn, it reserves the right to block the customer’s access to the site. “We must ensure that returns are sustainable for us and for the environment,” Asos wrote to its users.

For a long time, deliveries have been a problematic cost element for e-commerce operators. Especially the ‘last kilometre’ stage of the delivery process, by far the most demanding in terms of organisation and costs. If quick deliveries, no shipping costs and free returns were major commercial arguments as e-tail sites multiplied in the mid-2000s, the end of this decade seems to have become a time for logistics rationalisation, especially for the market's well-established leaders.

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