Reducing clothing returns in fashion retail is quite a tricky endeavour. Many retail businesses struggle to lower their return rate. Out of all e-commerce sectors, fashion retail has the highest number of returns. Return percentages rake up to 50%. A 2019 study by e-commerce marketing platform Yotpo showed that 88% of fashion shoppers returned clothing items in the past year. 66% of all participants admitted to purchasing more items than they intend on keeping due to the ease of returns.
In this article we’ll first break down 5 common causes for clothing returns, from lack of fit to bad customer experience. These 5 causes can all be obliterated with only 3 solutions, which we’ll dive into next.
Apparel returns: 5 causes
1. Lack of fit
The number one reason for apparel returns is a lack of fit. The clothing item might simply not fit them, being larger or smaller than expected. Another return cause is that the item technically fits, but that your customers actually prefer a tighter or looser fit.
2. Customers purchased more clothing items than they intend on keeping
As the Yotpo study showed, the majority of customers purchase more items than they intend on keeping. With only average sizing charts at hand, can you really blame them? If they take the gamble and only order one size, they might very well end up disappointed. Knowing they at least ordered one item that fits them, makes the hassle of returning the spares worthwhile.
3. Colour discrepancy
If the lighting is a bit off, the apparent colour shown on the product photo may deviate from the colour of the clothing item. Such colour discrepancies may very well cause your customers to return the clothing item.
4. Returns because of product description
The quality and appearance should be as described – or better. If customers find their clothing item is not what they expected it to be, they are much more likely to return it.
5. Bad customer experience
Bad customer experience is often not a standalone cause for clothing returns, but it does make it more likely. Say customers find that their new jeans are just slightly shorter than they expected them to be. If the customer experience is excellent, customers are more likely to love your brand. That love will in turn make them more satisfied, and thus inclined to oversee this minor inconvenience. As this 2019 study on brand love in fashion retail has shown, brand love mediates the effect of brand experience on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
On the other hand, if customer experience doesn’t meet your customers’ expectations, there’s a good chance they will return said jeans.
Reducing return rate on clothes: 3 solutions
1. Help your retail customers find the perfect size
Helping your customers find the right clothing size will significantly reduce your apparel returns. Providing assurance regarding size in advance, will also take away your customers’ need to order multiple sizes.
Lack of fit or insecurity about sizing are the main reasons for apparel returns, so naturally these are the main issues to solve. But how to go about it? Sizing charts simply won’t do. They don’t provide your customers with the information they expect and need from you.
Faslet’s Size Me Up-widget offers an easy, user-friendly solution. It helps your retail customers find the right size in just a few steps, taking both size and preferred fit into account. Since your customers will receive their perfect size, your returns will be significantly reduced. It will also reduce the chances of customers returning apparel due to appearance issues; a colour discrepancy won’t matter if the product fits (source: Practical Ecommerce). Our sizing widget therefore offers a solution to the first 3 causes for clothing returns.
2. Make sure to have an accurate, informative product description
The ideal product description makes sure that your customers know exactly what they will be getting. It provides an accurate picture of the look and feel of the clothes, leaving no room for interpretations. Also make sure not to exaggerate or – even worse – make false claims. Such product descriptions might increase your conversion rate, but you can surely count on an increased return rate as well.
3. Elevate your customer experience
An elevated customer experience increases brand love, which will make your customers more likely to be satisfied with your products. So how to elevate your customer experience and reduce apparel returns?
Customer experience begins when your customer first visits your website. Make sure that your website is easy to navigate and that your business is easily reachable. An accurate and informative product description elevates your customer as well. When your customers consider adding a product to their shopping cart, it’s very important that your retail brand offers sizing advice. Our sizing widget will offer them a feeling of confidence and safety regarding size. This reassurance is a vital part of customer experience. Not only will it make them less likely to return their clothing item, but it will also increase the chances of them becoming return customers.