Returns hurt your business. And with return rates as high as 40% for online clothing purchases, going up to 50% or more for luxury apparel items, that is a huge chunk of potential revenue being lost. Here are 4 ways to help you lower that rate, increase conversions and improve your brand’s bottom-line in the process.

 

  1. Better quality visuals:
By providing high-quality images and even a video to show how the clothing looks in a 360-degree view on a live model, luxury online apparel retailer Net-A-Porter helps customers buy clothing that they will want to keep.

Buying clothes online is convenient but there are downsides too. What you buy might not always be what you get. When products don’t tally with a customer’s expectations the rate of returns increases. One way of avoiding this is to invest in better visual on-site. Providing multiple, high-quality images of different product angles, along with images of the product being worn helps customers visualize the details better, making them less likely to buy something that doesn’t meet their expectations. Better yet, include a video if you have the budget for it.

Net-a-Porter, for example, does a great job of providing detailed product images and information for each piece of clothing. This helps manage their customers’ expectations when purchasing high-end luxury fashion items online.

 

2. Improve your products… and their handling:

By improving the quality and make of your product and providing something that is best-in-class also helps reduce return rates as customers tend to be more satisfied with the product and less likely to return it. Improving quality control is another aspect that mitigates returns from faulty products by ensuring that broken or faulty items aren’t shipped out to customers who will then have no choice but to return them. Packaging and improved handling are especially relevant when it comes to big-ticket, delicate apparel items like cashmere, silk, and embroidered or beaded clothing as such items need special handling care when being shipped out.

 

Integrating fit technology:

Fit-related returns in fashion eCommerce can account for up to 80% of returns. By helping customers find clothes that fit them better, brands can drastically reduce this number and provide a better online shopping experience in the process. Fit technology includes size recommenders that integrate with a brand’s platform to propose the best size for each customer for every item of clothing. Other tools require a customer to measure a piece of clothing that they own and then use that as a comparison to help a customer select their best fit.

Some also provide data-backed insights from fit feedback that can help a brand improve its clothing’s fit from the manufacturing stage to help optimize inventory and cut down on returns. Whichever fit technology tool is used, it is important that the customer adoption process is as frictionless as possible to ensure high adoption rates. A seamless fit experience also helps increase conversions and brand loyalty.

By taking into account individual shopper fit preference, the Smart Size Chart is able to provide contextualized fit preferences for each and every customer.

Example above of fit technology being used to make a size recommendation based on a shopper’s details—by answering just 4 questions (height, weight, waist size, and age) the Smart Size Chart technology here makes a best-fit recommendation, as well as a preferred fit recommendation, for men’s casual shirt brand Criquet Shirts.

 

Include (honest) product reviews:

Product reviews go a long way in influencing a customer’s purchasing decision. According to a paper published by the Spiegel Research Centre, displaying reviews can increase conversion by 270%. But when publishing reviews, transparency is key. Don’t forget to include negative reviews as well. Purchase likelihood typically peaks when the average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars and starts to drop as the star rating approaches a perfect 5.0. While it may seem counterintuitive, negative reviews can have a positive impact because they establish credibility and authenticity. When customers know what to expect, they tend to buy with the intention of keeping the item.

 

Conclusion:

Returns can be as high as 80% for apparel brands, especially digitally native ones. Technology can help to reduce fit-related returns by connecting customers to better fitting clothing, whilst including product reviews and better quality visuals can help provide valuable consumer feedback for other consumers prior to purchasing, helping mitigate returns resulting from mismanaged expectations. Improved product handling also reduces the number of returns resulting from breakage, and producing high-quality products helps a brand become a product leader, resulting in more satisfied customers and a lower chance of the items being returned.

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