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The Fight to Reduce Returns Begins Before the Customer Purchases: When They Select a Size

Returns are top of mind for retailers this holiday season, but implementing a strong fulfilment network is only half the battle. In order to truly reduce the number of products being shipped back to the retailer, merchants need to focus on improving the accuracy of the original purchase, particularly in regards to fit.

Traditional brick-and-mortar allows customers to test the fit of items before purchasing, eliminating the likelihood of a return due to size issues. But with e-commerce sales accelerating and many shoppers still wary of communal dressing rooms, many shoppers are relying on inaccurate online sizing guides. When combined with the greater volume of holiday purchases, this will likely lead to increased returns – unless merchants act now.

“Many retailers have proprietary size charts that make what is already a guessing game, even more difficult,” said Ronen Luzon, CEO at MySize, the e-commerce sizing solution. “Vanity sizing has further complicated what large, medium, or small sizes mean. The rapid shift to e-commerce and undeveloped e-commerce capabilities of many brands makes that guessing game far more costly.”

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Footwear in particular has suffered from inaccurate sizing, with many consumers opting to purchase multiple pairs so that they can return the ones that don’t fit. For the retailer, this can prove inefficient at best and hugely expensive at worst. In order to help shoppers find the right fit before the point of purchase, retailers need to offer greater guidance on their e-commerce site.

Solutions like MySize and True Fit can help with this, by using shopper data to recommend the right size to each individual shopper. By referencing previous purchases; comparing these purchases to those from similar shoppers; and using machine learning, sizing solutions can make more accurate product recommendations for every customer.

Woman shopping online with smartphone, fashion store in background
When a retailer makes a tailored recommendation to an individual shopper, they are more likely to purchase.
CREDIT: nikolas_stock - Adobe Stock

And these tools can extend beyond sizing guidance; by identifying which items customers favor, they can identify related styles that the customer might want to purchase.

“There is the tendency to put too much focus on the return being about the item itself – it’s the product’s fault for not fitting, or for the design not being quite right,” said Jessica Murphy, co-founder and CCO of True Fit. “But what isn’t considered is that a retailer’s own engagement strategy can actually be the root problem, either through not understanding a customer’s preferences or serving up item recommendations which would never match these preferences, making the return inevitable.”

By contrast, once a shopper is served with accurate recommendations, they are more likely to trust that retailer in the future. This confidence can help encourage future purchases while simultaneously reducing returns, as shoppers better understanding that retailer’s sizing.

“It may seem like a ‘nice to have’ but tech that provides the ‘wow’ factor helps set retailers apart and keeps customers coming back for more,” said Luzon. “Think about the first time you ordered a taxi with your phone, had food delivered to your door really fast, or in retail’s case, skipped the dressing room – and how all of the clothes you ordered fit, thanks to measurements on your phone. It’s magical and it’s a game-changer for businesses.”

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