How To Reduce Apparel Returns
Fashion ecommerce retailers have colloquially struggled with reducing online returns. There are a number of prime reasons for this, too. Consumers shopping for apparel are restricted by a set of limitations in ecommerce that are not present in the brick and mortar setting.
Common limitations include:
- Unable to try on the apparel.
- Unsure what the proper size will be.
- No ability to touch and feel the product.
- Limited ability to see intricate details.
Of the estimated 30-40% of fashion ecommerce returns that are absorbed by vendors, sizing and fit top the list of reasons why consumers make returns. A clear-cut example of this is found with one of the leading fashion ecommerce retailers, ASOS.
The company sells over 60,000 products online and offers a simple, hassle-free returns policy. Not only that, ASOS is approaching the target market perfectly by offering free shipping worldwide and free returns with no restocking fees, something that has helped them reduce the rate of returns by a whopping 50%.
But ASOS’ hassle-free online product returns policy is not the only reason why they are making strides in the reduction of fashion ecommerce returns. The trick is that they integrate preventative reverse logistics. This is has proven to be vital in the apparel retailer reducing their rate of returns so drastically.
The integrated fitting application, which is called Virtusize, helps shoppers find the perfect fit. This not only has enabled ASOS to dramatically reduce return rates, but also helps improve customer loyalty and retention because shoppers are satisfied when the proper fitting garment is delivered without a return having to be made.
What makes Virtusize so applicable is that it’s an apparel fitting app that works across a vast array of online retailers. Shoppers are able to compare a fit from one store where they made a previous purchase at another that they are currently shopping at; which helps them find the perfect fit more often than not.
Reducing Footwear Returns
Another key example of how leading vendors are reducing returns in fashion ecommerce is found with Running Warehouse. Since introducing a footwear sizing app, the ecommerce store has been able to reduce the rate of returns by a substantial 23%.
The app, called Shoefitr, relies upon a database of shoe measurements that have been integrated by using a special three-dimensional imaging technology. This app helps consumers find the right size shoe by allowing them to compare the size of the shoe they are wearing to the one that they are shopping for.
Once shoppers compare the size of the shoe they are wearing with the one that they are shopping for, the sizing app heads to the next step. It will offer shopping recommendations based upon what it calculates is the best size for the customer.
Reducing Online Returns from Mobile Devices
An online store in the United Kingdom that sees over half of its purchases come from mobile devices has streamlined another intuitive approach for reducing online returns in fashion ecommerce. House of Fraser has integrated a mobile and touchscreen friendly sizing app called True Fit.
Shoppers merely enter some simple details about their waist size, height, weight and so forth, and the app will recommend the best size of apparel based upon the data that’s entered.
Once a shopper’s size has been assessed, the app will then carry that size over to other nested pages that the shopper visits. This helps the shopper avoid making a purchase of apparel that does not fit properly, and aids in facilitating strong sales due to increased consumer confidence during the shopping process.
Designer jeans retailers are also getting on board with integrated clothing sizing apps. A perfect example of this is Sojeans. They feature a fitting app called Soselect that requires just five steps to find the perfect size. (By the way, returns are free if made within 30 days to give consumers a chance to try before they buy.)
The first two clicks provide information about your height and your weight.
The next three clicks gather details about your body type, thighs and behind.
You can take things one step further by adding one more click about the type of shoes you wear, so you can get that perfect-fitting pair of jeans that hangs over your shoes just right.
Once you have entered in the necessary information, the fitting app will recommend different jeans based upon an “affinity” rating that ranges from 1-99%.
Reducing Apparel Returns
As the above apps demonstrate, sizing is one of the most important factors in reducing online returns in fashion ecommerce. But a few other elements play a role, too. Here are some tips.
- Integrate a user-friendly fitting app.
- Offer high resolution images.
- Include zoom features and images of different angles.
- Provide detailed product descriptions.
- Make returns hassle-free to increase confidence.
There are several directions that you can take that can enable you to lower the cost of clothing returns. We’ll revisit, briefly, a few areas that we’ve already covered to help you get a better idea of how you could integrate this into your game plan.
- Look into integrated sizing and fitting apps, like the one that ASOS uses to help customers find the proper size the first time, so you can reduce return rates.
- Apps like TrueFit can also help you cut down on shoe-related returns and reduce cost, too.
- Integrate an automated returns processing system that lets your customers place returns from your website. This way, you can retarget them even when they are making a return and possibly capture a new sale by merely informing them of a special.
- Offer customers in-store credit with a bonus (like 10% more in-store credit instead of cash) for taking the offer. Using this method, you can keep the cash in-house to assure that the return monies are tendered back to your business.
- Pursue a bulk shipping contract for items that are going to be returned so that you can reduce the cost of shipping on your side while offering a valuable amenity to the consumer.
- Let customers submit pictures of lower cost items that arrive damaged. If they cost more to ship back, simply send the customer a replacement item instead, and let them keep the damaged item (make sure you reflect this in your returns policy).
- Limit your return policy to 30-days to help reduce the rate of returns overall.
- Gather analytics on returns so you can determine what items are being returned the most to make key changes to reduce return rates and the aggregate cost across the board.