As Online Footwear Shopping Rises, So Do Returns — Here’s Why That Matters

Footwear technology company Volumental recently conducted a consumer survey to gauge their shoe and sneaker purchasing intentions for the upcoming holiday shopping season. The results showed a large number of shoppers — 63% of respondents — expecting to buy online.

The survey also revealed 30% of those polled saying they would buy more than one pair of footwear online and then return the items that don’t fit. The survey had 538 respondents, and the results mirrored similar consumer research on purchase intent, sizing issues and returns.

Other notable results of the research revealed that when purchasing footwear online, 20% of respondents “are not so confident or not at all confident that the pair selected will fit them,” while 57% “have bought a pair of shoes online before and had to return them because they didn’t fit.” The survey also showed that just 10% of respondents were “extremely confident” the footwear they purchased online would fit.

CREDIT: Courtesy image

The poll also showed that over 80% of respondents “are more likely to shop online with a brand/retailer if they had technology that could determine the perfect fitting shoe.”

Volumental’s fit technology is based on a 3D foot scan that also leverages shopper data and artificial intelligence. The fit solution includes an in-store retail scanner as well as an app. In a blog post earlier this summer, the company said as the global pandemic drove shoppers to buy more items online, it also sent the number of returns due to sizing soaring. And it’s a problem for the planet.

“Online shopping, inconsistent sizing, and free returns have turned homes into private fitting rooms and contribute to environmental waste,” the company stated. “The average e-commerce return rate is 2 to 3 times higher than in-store. However, over-ordering and free returns are not sustainable solutions for the environment, the customer journey, or a brand’s reputation.”

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