March 22, 2019 Dave Desmarais

How We Can Prevent Online Clothing Returns

Online returns are here to stay

Unfortunately, online returns may be here to stay unless drastic changes are made. The human element is primarily to blame for the glut of clothing returns from online sales. We humans are indecisive, picky, unsatisfied, and many times incompetent. But most of all we’re individuals, and one product does not fit all. Return rates are talked about often, but the idea this trend started because of the internet is just plain false. Remember mail order catalogs? Returns were a big deal then too. The problem is not just the returns themselves, but also what they’re doing to our environment. Capture by Tailored is a virtual fitting type solution aiming to help prevent online clothing returns for the betterment of our planet.

The True Cost of Returns to a Retailer

Newspapers initially offered their online content for free and now many are reversing course and charging for that same content. Similarly, retailers offered free returns as a competitive edge, but now find them to be a plague on their business. I was recently made aware the cost to a retailer of processing a return is near 30% of its purchase price. With margins for apparel usually around 10%, this means a retailer needs to sell three items to cover the cost of one return. Online return rates hover between 30-50%, thus there is a lot of loss and much room for improvement.

Prevent online clothing returnsThe Damage Clothing Returns Cause the Environment

There are plenty of statistics that show exactly how the apparel industry is harming the environment. Pollution, waste an resource depletion. It’s all there.

Improve Consumer Confidence To Reduce Returns

Research shows 75% of clothing is returned because of preference based reasons (style, fit, etc…). Improving consumer confidence is key to a better online experience and preventing returns. The online experience will always lack the touch and feel of in-store, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t steps that can be taken.

In-store customers can match their preference to a garment before they buy, but this is harder for online shoppers. Hence online retailers must understand a customers visual preference by using online fitting rooms and augmented reality to show what a garment might look like on. They must also understand a shoppers fit preference using fit-tools such as Tailored. Combining the two will help retailers not only reduce returns, but increase conversions.

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