Could the Zalando Returns Process Be the Answer to Post-Purchase Dissonance in Fashion?

Zalando is one of the largest e-commerce marketplaces in Europe, specialising in the sale of fashion and accessories. It builds its position based on special, exceptionally favourable sales rules and a customer-friendly returns policy, which make customers willingly return to this marketplace. This unique approach fosters customer loyalty and addresses post-purchase dissonance prevalent in the fashion industry.

On Zalando, sellers adhere to the marketplace’s policies including a streamlined returns process designed for efficiency and transparency. Notably, Zalando’s extended return period of 100 days allows ample time for customers to reconsider their purchases, significantly reducing post-purchase dissonance.

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Zalando in UK

In the UK, among fashion online shop users, 6% express a preference for Zalando. However, within the subset of UK respondents familiar with Zalando, which accounts for 43% of the total, 14% indicate a liking for the brand. As a result, the usage share of Zalando among fashion online shop users in the UK in 2022 amounted to 5% and it is still growing.

Source: Statista, 2022

Zalando returns policy

Post-purchase dissonance, a psychological state arising from unmet expectations or product dissatisfaction, poses challenges for both customers and sellers. Zalando’s robust returns policy mitigates this by offering hassle-free returns, enhancing trust and loyalty among customers.The feature that distinguishes Zalando on the market is the return period. This marketplace offers customers 100 days to return the goods in case of wrong size or wrong choice. This gives them a lot of time to decide whether to cancel the purchase. Sellers must be prepared to handle returns under this policy. Importantly, return shipping costs are usually covered by Zalando. This benefits customers, but may impact sellers’ margins.

Source: Zalando, 2022, Metadata: Zalando – Bringing fashion to 25 countries

Zalando carefully analyses returns data. In 2022, it took action to reduce the number of returns related to inappropriate size by 10%. Leveraging advanced technologies and size consulting services like Zalando Size Advice, the marketplace reduces return rates by providing personalised size recommendations based on customers’ preferences and purchase history. Thanks to machine learning, the system is able to predict whether a given product will be too large or too small, which allows for better size matching when shopping.

The return process on Zalando unfolds in several steps

Return Information

Sellers receive detailed return notifications, including reasons and product conditions.

Return Shipment

Customers use Zalando’s shipping methods to return products, initiating the process.

Product Verification

Sellers assess the returned product’s condition for resale eligibility.

Return Processing

If the product meets conditions, the seller processes the return; otherwise, a refund may be refused.

Customer Refund

Zalando initiates refunds to customers upon successful return processing, bypassing direct seller involvement.

Challenges and solutions

While the returns process streamlines customer satisfaction, sellers grapple with managing returns and associated costs. Nonetheless, Zalando’s proactive measures, such as accurate product descriptions and size recommendations, help mitigate returns, benefiting both sellers and customers alike. Additionally, tailoring customer service to meet expectations can curb returns; engaging in conversations and addressing concerns promptly can prevent potential issues that may prompt customers to return products. Zalando plays a supportive role for sellers by advancing tools grounded in modern technologies.

For sellers on Zalando, comprehending the intricacies of the returns process is paramount. Efficient management in this realm not only mitigates financial losses but also cultivates a favourable reputation and fosters customer trust. Optimising product descriptions, enhancing image quality, and delivering exceptional customer service are pivotal strategies that can effectively reduce return rates while concurrently boosting customer satisfaction.


    Global24 Team


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