Demographic Factors

Male vs. Female

In the case of A-returns, the returned goods are in their original new condition. This is also valid for their packaging.

  • PRO
  • Women purchase furniture, jewelry and clothing online with a higher probability than men. *

  • Men purchase media, sports articles and entertainment technology online with a higher probability than women.

  • Men focus more on the assessments from other customers in the product ratings.

  • Online dealers who focus more intensively on female target groups must invest less optimization expenditures than for men.

  • Fashion retailers can attain higher profit contributions with men than with women.

* Return Management in the Mail Order Business, Asdecker, 2014
  • Women generally make more returns than men (74 % vs. 63 %), particularly for fashion items.*

  • Women tend to make more impulse purchases for fashion items; men tend to make more impulse purchases for electronic products.

  • Young women quite frequently exercise their cancellation right.

  • Particularly for entertainment electronics, the return rate is higher among men than among women.**

  • Men get annoyed regarding return costs significantly more frequently than women.***

  • Men get annoyed regarding return costs significantly more frequently than women.

* Kantar Emnid Study ** Return Management in the Mail Order Business, Asdecker, 2014 *** Splendid Research Study 2019

Young vs. Old

Besides the buyers’ age, past experiences with the return process can also affect the probability of a return.

  • PRO
  • Young target groups place more importance on the assessments from other customers in the product ratings. This lowers the return rate.

  • Older buyer groups tend to return goods less often than younger buyer groups.

  • 74.8 % of the 60+ generation prefer traditional purchasing over online shopping. More than 30 % would like to first see and touch a product before they buy it. Only 19.5 % of the Millennials see things the same way. *

* Oracle Study “Between Influence and Purchasing Power” 2019
  • The highest return rates are in the 25-34 age group: Almost 31 % return one-fourth of the products they have ordered online to the merchant. *

  • Long-term customers, who are accustomed to the good will return practices offered by mail order merchants, return with a higher probability. **

* Kantar Emnid Study ** Return Management in the Mail Order Business, Asdecker, 2014

Poor vs. Rich

A customer’s purchasing power in conjunction with his socio-demographic background determines his purchasing behavior and has effects on his probability of returning goods. The liquidity and/or creditworthiness are reflected in various needs such as the need to control and have security, the postponement of the payment and payment type preferences.

  • PRO
  • The advance payment method triggers the lowest return rate.

  • Advance payment offers the seller security because the payment flow is made before the goods are transported.

  • Customers prefer risk minimization and thus prefer a purchase on account over an e-payment in advance.

  • Women (77 %) prefer a purchase on account more than men (56 %).

  • The relationship with unprofitable customers can be ended by the seller. An indicator is the returns behavior and/or the related costs.

  • Based upon the respective customer’s creditworthiness and/or return history, the payment methods offered can be restricted in order to reduce the return/cost burdens incurred by the sender.

  • In the case of price-sensitive customers, belated price discounts can be granted in order to avoid a return (if the price has increased between the purchase and the delivery).

  • The option to buy on account increases the return rate.*

  • In the case of a purchase on account, if the goods are returned, at the time that the return is made, there is (still) no payment flow to balance out the flow of products. This hurts liquidity.

  • Advance payment is often regarded by customers as being a hindrance: The expenditure is higher in comparison with other payment methods. In addition, the delivery is delayed.

* Return Management in the Mail Order Business, Asdecker, 2014

Tech.-Savvy vs. Not Tech.-Savvy

The online world in general and the e-commerce in particular are essentially of a technological nature. The utilization and handling of the technologies used requires skills, abilities and experience which are allocated diversely across the various buyer levels. They have effects on purchasing behavior, perception and preferences including the return behavior and sometimes overlap with the characteristics of the various generations (Babyboomer, X, Y and Z). However, they likewise depend on the breadth, depth and duration of the experiences that have been obtained.

Pros (Technically-Savvy)
  • PRO
  • The concept of e-commerce and the related processes (provision of information, purchase, payment and return) are very distinct. These buyer groups tend to more frequently exercise their right of cancellation.

  • Generation Y is relatively easily motivated to disclose data for personal or financial incentives.*

  • The standards for the services rendered by providers and sellers are high: The tolerance for transaction mistakes and defective products or incorrect deliveries is low.

  • The interaction of Millennials tends to be fast-paced. Because they spend less time on individual pages, they are more likely to make mistakes and read less than the average user.**

  • The online search is a given part of the information procurement process. Thus, information quality and the reviews from other customers are important for the purchase and the return.

* Deloitte Analytics Institute, Study “Dataland Germany – The Generation Gap” 2015 ** GPointstudio Study 2016,
Cons (Not Technically-Savvy)
  • Due to uncertainty or a lack of knowledge, goods purchased online are not sent back so frequently.

  • E-payment systems are accepted less than purchasing on account, credit card and PayPal.

  • The return slips enclosed with the package offer “analogous” convenience and security and are thus preferred to digital return processes.

  • High transparency with regards to the purchasing process, payment processing as well as the tracking of deliveries and returns alleviate the uncertainty regarding technical issues.