Fashion retail is the most rapidly growing segment of the e-commerce industry. Shopify estimates that the global fashion e-commerce market will continue to grow at a rate of 10.6%, reaching $713B by 2022, owing to the convenience of online shopping and lenient return policy that enable consumers to buy, try and return clothing at no cost. Consequently, this growth will coincide with an increase in returns due to the lack of in-store fitting rooms.
E-commerce business will soon cause current return rates to become unmanageable — approximately one truckload of apparel is dumped every second, with returned goods accounting for a large chunk of that. According to Optoro, only half of the returned clothes get restocked. This not only costs businesses an estimated $550 billion per year, but it also harms the environment, with fashion ranking as the world’s second-largest polluter after the oil industry.
Common reasons for returning clothes
Both retailers and customers contribute to an unsustainable apparel e-commerce return rate. What causes this to happen? First, customers have no physical contact with online store products. Therefore, they must rely on their imagination, which can be quite deceptive. As a result, there arises a clash between expectation and reality.
Online shopping is also far more impulsive than in-store shopping. Customers will continue to order things they don’t need simply because it’s easy to buy with a simple click. What you can do is figure out the reasons for returns in your online store and reduce the likelihood that those reasons will appear. Overall, popular reasons for clothing returns include:
- Poor fit, incorrect size or the product.
- Product not corresponding to the description.
- Product not meeting customer expectations.
- Poor product quality.
- Consumer indecision.
- Bracket purchasing.
Examining the reasons for returns may provide some insight into how to solve, or at least mitigate, the problem of excessive return requests. Returns aren’t usually the result of customer mistakes. It’s sometimes the retailer’s responsibility, and other times it’s just an unusual circumstance that can’t be overlooked.
Include images and full descriptions
Try to compensate for the lack of touch when deciding how detailed the product descriptions should be. Don’t just mention materials; show textures, varied perspectives, and descriptions. Try to photograph each product from different angles (front, back, and both sides).
Selecting clothing has an emotional aspect, and shoppers want to put an item on before deciding if it’s right for them. With an online store, this is impossible and clients are limited to viewing the product on a screen. Online retailers, on the other hand, are becoming savvier, and we’re seeing a surge in smart solutions that mix the benefits of offline shopping with the benefits of online retail.
For instance, some global stores have already implemented AI-powered fit&size recommendation tools like YourFit by 3DLOOK, which showed successful results in decreasing return rates. The solution shows how an item would look on a person and which size would be the ideal fit, offering retailers the unique potential to provide a virtual clothing try on experience to their customers.
Deliver exceptional customer service
Make it simple for customers to contact you if they have a product question or an issue. This keeps them from becoming frustrated and returning the product because they don’t understand how it works or believe it’s damaged. Consider incorporating a live chat or instant messaging in addition to the traditional methods of phone and email. This creates an instant connection between the customer and your company, preventing unnecessary returns and ensuring queries or issues are resolved as soon as possible.
Implement customer database segmentation
Persons and traits derived from a thorough examination of your customer database are far more accurate than total representations of high-risk consumers. Return-prevention segmentation is similar to marketing segmentation in that you are attempting to uncover patterns, behaviors, characteristics, and other important measures in order to make effective decisions.
Have detailed product descriptions
Customers will be aware of what they are getting if you provide a detailed product description. This may enhance their interest in the product. Focus on describing your goods as clearly as possible rather than on selling the clothing. Provide as much assistance to online buyers as possible, be exact and truthful in describing the products. False or exaggerated claims won’t help you lower your online store return rate.
Make your customers trust you
One of the most effective ways for online businesses to develop trust and confidence among their target audience is through customer reviews. Before purchasing a product, customers often want to know what other customers have to say about it. Users can get answers to important product-related questions through customer reviews, which is why they are so valuable. So, give your clients the ability to see other customer’s feedback.
Solving the issue of the growing returns is crucial to your business
Ecommerce returns are still an essential and challenging aspect of the online fashion market. Trying on clothes physically sometimes seems to be the sole way for customers to determine whether the items are suitable for them. However, retailers wondering how to reduce returns in ecommerce can do a lot more to assist clients in making the best decision. Take it a step further and incorporate new technology elements like fit and size recommendation solutions into the consumer experience.
Fewer returns won’t be the sole benefit if you succeed in managing your customers’ expectations and providing them with the right fit. You’ll notice boosts in conversion, client loyalty, and average order value if your consumers are convinced that they’ll get the proper size and fit from you.