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Frequent Fails: D2C and corporate brands' biggest shipping experience blunders



Published on: April 19, 2023

Updated: August 25, 2023


Incorrect information on shipping costs, poor accessibility of customer service and incorrect customer accounts – there are many things that can annoy customers when ordering online. The biggest blunders in test orders from D2C and corporate brands have been compiled by parcelLab, the specialist for post-purchase experience.


Munich, April 18, 2023 – The shipping experience offered by D2C and corporate brands to their customers after they have placed an order in the online store still leaves room for improvement in many areas. In 50 test orders each at corporate and D2C brands as part of the D2C Shipping Study 2023, parcelLab, the specialist for post-purchase communication, experienced some more or less nasty surprises. parcelLab co-founder Anton Eder names ten exemplary mistakes from which every online retailer can learn.

  1. Wrong shipping costs: A D2C brand advertised free shipping on its home page, charged 2.99 euros in shipping fees and did not include the returns slip that was also promised on the website with the package. Since customers react very sensitively to shipping costs, retailers with such blunders quickly lose credibility – and thus customers.
  2. Errors in the customer account: Many customer accounts, whether at D2C or Corporate Brands, still had “not delivered” in the customer account days after receipt of the goods. For several corporate brands, the customer account and returns portal did not work, so we had to call Customer Support to register the return. And one D2C brand didn’t have a customer account at all – or it was well hidden. In any case, we didn’t find it.
  3. Poor customer service accessibility: for one D2C brand, customer service took 7 days to respond to an email inquiry. By phone, the company is only available on Wednesdays from 14:00 to 17:00. From the customer’s point of view, this is simply unacceptable.
  4. Shipping communication in officialese: In the test, the corporate brands in particular tended to formulate order and shipping confirmations in a maximally impersonal manner. Even the local tax office is now closer to the people.
  5. Error-prone do-it-yourself returns: Various D2C brands need to provide better support for their customers when it comes to returns processing. Many leave their customers completely on their own when it comes to returns and only provide information about return options in the T&Cs. This not only leads to frustration among customers but also to chaos in the company if customers forget to enclose the order or order number with the package or send the return to the company address instead of to the returns warehouse.
  6. Difficult returns handling after ship-from-store: In principle, it is a great user experience for customers if their order in the online store is delivered the same day by courier in a paper bag from the nearest store. However, if the order turns out to be the wrong order, things get difficult. This is because the customer must then take care of suitable packaging themselves in order to return the goods to the retailer. Retailers should take this into account in their shipping strategy.
  7. Customer confusion due to inconsistent order information: A corporate brand mandatorily required the entry of a “transaction number” when processing returns on the web, but this was nowhere to be found in the entire order documents. What was meant was the order number. In general, instructions on where to find the required information help the customer with the processing.
  8. Annoying revocation declarations via Typeform: Various D2C brands use Typeform to let customers submit a revocation declaration. It is an annoying and cumbersome process for customers to have to enter the order number and item number into the form fields themselves. It is all the more annoying when the return has to be handled entirely by the customer. This task can be handled much more elegantly via a returns portal.
  9. False sustainability promises: If you integrate the topic of sustainability into your communication, you can’t afford any slip-ups, because customers react very sensitively here. In our test, we found false promises twice: One D2C brand had “CO2-neutral shipping” written large on the adhesive tape. However, there was nothing about this on the logistics provider’s shipping label. And a corporate brand communicated elaborately about sustainability in shipping. However, the product ordered was still shrink-wrapped in plastic inside the paper bag for shipping. At least it was recyclable.
  10. Luxury brand in a trash box: A premium corporate brand shipped the order in a completely dented cardboard box that did not look high-quality. There is a huge gap between brand image and actual brand appearance.

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