In the age of Amazon and Asos, we’ve come to expect free delivery and returns as the norm. The recent ‘try before you buy’ pilots are evidence of this new consumer mindset focused on providing the ultimate convenience. This latest initiative has divided the industry into two camps. Those who see this as adding unsustainable pressure on an already returns-heavy supply chain and those who see this as a natural extension of a consumer-driven market and a key conversion tool.
Instead of trying to fight against the convenience wave, retailers would be better placed tackling these issues on two fronts: investing in more intelligent fit technology on the web-front end and optimising the returns program and supply chain, using these invaluable data-insights to fuel checkout technology.
In this latest blog we will be exploring the first of these two battlegrounds, alongside our friends from Rakuten Fits Me we will demonstrate how fit technology is working to reduce returns and deliver the ultimate customer experience.
How to reduce returns by leveraging fit tech...
We’ve all been there. You have twelve tabs open and you’re flitting between them, trying to work out which dress will be best for your cousin’s wedding. “Yes that one looks nice, but isn’t that model like 5 inches taller than me, does that mean the hem will hit no-man's land (aka just below the knee)?” or “Well of course that looks great on the model, she’s a size 8, she would look amazing in a bin bag.” Eventually you end up apologising to your battered bank account and ordering 4 dresses, you know full well you’ll end up trundling down to the post office to return most of them. What if it didn’t have to be this way?
Fashion superstore Asos have once again shown us why they are fearless pioneers as they release two new innovations set to reduce fit related returns.
Strategy 1: Augmented Reality
Asos is working with Israeli tech startup Zeekit using augmented reality to digitally ‘map’ the same item of clothing on various sized models using existing photographs of the item and models. With the latest statistics putting the average British woman at 5ft 5in and a size 16, it’s a far cry from the 5ft 10in size 8 women we’re used to seeing modelling our garments. By showing the same item across a range of body types, Asos are showing that their fashion doesn’t fit a mould. A powerful message for any retailer.
Some shoppers have already experienced the testing of this new tech, in a statement Asos revealed they will be rolling out this functionality across the site and app very soon. Watch this space!
Strategy 2: Social Proof
Asos have also developed a more direct approach to reduce fit-related returns. When browsing an item (whilst logged in), Asos use their immense data capabilities and a small consumer survey to predict which size is most suitable for you. Stating “75% of customers like you bought a size UK 12 and didn’t return it.”
A huge step in developing trust in the purchasing decision. You also have the option to help Asos make their results even more accurate by providing feedback about the item once you’ve purchased to help other customers. This is a great example of pooling multiple data sources to make actionable decisions to influence customer behaviour.
Strategy 3: Fit Technology
On a recent webinar we hosted with Fits Me, we revealed a snapshot of the highest return reasons we commonly see in ReBOUND’s return data. Size and Fit related returns (e.g too small, too big) stood out as the clear winner at 61% of shoppers reasons for returning.
To fully understand why you have an issue with online apparel returns you need to look earlier in the customer journey – back to the product page to be precise.
Chances are, the reason your customer returned their item is because it didn’t fit them (size being the number 1 reason for returns.) But how do you stop customers from buying non-fitting clothes in the first place?
It’s actually really simple.
Fit recommendation technology can help retailers overcome the issue of multi-size purchases and fit-related returns, and is easier than you think to implement. A simple ‘find my size’ button is added to the product page, and when clicked, asks the shopper 3 simple questions: their height, weight and age. After clicking on a body type which best represents them an accurate size recommendation is made, through an algorithm combining both body data from the shopper and garment data form the retailer.
The solution works to overcome the common sizing issues which contribute to a high returns rate, and offers the customer an alternative to the often confusing and outdated size chart.
2018 is the year in which retailers need to fix their returns, and it clearly pays to pay attention to size and fit online.
The industry is at a crucial junction. It’s no longer enough to get your products online and just hope that somehow your customers will love them. Retailers need to continue to innovate and harness the data capabilities available to give consumers confidence in making the purchase and ultimately reduce strain on the supply chain caused by fit related returns. The tech is there, it’s time to put it to action.
If you need advice on how to start tackling returns, we'll be happy to tell you how ReBOUND's return platform can help you manage returns better.