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Are you ready for the holiday returns season?

Growth Secrets|22.11.2017

A new e-commerce trend of ‘try before you buy’ hit the headlines recently, with a number of apparel retailers offering the service.

For some brands, it bridges the gap between online and offline; but it also encourages customers to over-order, with the intention of returning their unwanted items free of charge. While the concept may appeal to some, it represents a huge step backwards in the fashion industry’s efforts to become less wasteful, and more sustainable.

Online returns cost retailers an estimated £20 billion each year. Return processes are often costly in resource terms, and negatively impact on a retailer’s bottom line – as well as having significant environmental impact. Taking a step back for a moment, we should perhaps consider how the concept of ‘try before you buy’ undermines shopper’s trust that the retailer will provide them with clothes they like, and that fit. 

Returns are a big sticking point in the customer journey, and 80% of shoppers wouldn’t shop again if they returned their 1st order. With fit-related issues accounting for an estimated 17% of online returns, merchants are making returns a priority and combatting with innovation. 

Specialty retailers Taylrd Clothing and Rhone are at the forefront and working to tackle high return rates with specialised fit recommendation technology from Rakuten Fits Me, that provides shoppers with accurate size and fit recommendations along with style and preference recommendations.

For example, when a shopper visits the retailer’s website, they are able to accurately visualise how desired items will fit based on data within the system that matches their personal body size and shape. Shoppers enter their age, height and weight through the merchant’s website, which then calculates three bespoke body shapes from which they select a personalised match. Personalised size and fit advice is delivered to ensure highly accurate shopper sizing and fit recommendations.

It is increasingly important for consumers to get as close to a custom fit experience as possible when they are shopping for clothing and apparel online. Shoppers do not have the same sensory experience online as they would shopping in-store. Merchants with the ability to make accurate sizing and fit recommendations and deliver merchandise that meets the unique style and preference of each customer provides a leg-up on competing retailers.

Holiday peak season is a great opportunity for you to increase customer loyalty, as well as profits. If accurate fit advice is provided, shoppers can be confident the clothes will look good when they arrive. Over time, this means happier shoppers, fewer returns and a far more sustainable process.

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