Apparel retailers start 2016 with a 30% return rate

By | eCommerce, Fashion Industry


The 2015 holiday season broke all records with close to $90B in holiday shopping taking place online. Thanks to previous champions like and new entrants like there were more places than ever before to buy gifts online. However, as we’ve seen over the years, apparel continues to see an extraordinarily high return rate, this year analysts are expecting a 30% return rate according to Custom Growth Partners:

Shoppers are expected to send back 30% of clothing and shoes bought online, which is twice the return rate of goods bought in a store, says retail research firm Customer Growth Partners. (Source – Internet Retailer)

The core of the problem is the massive variability in sizing from one brand to another. A shopper might be a medium in one brand, only to find out after buying online that they are a large in a competing brand. This means that many shoppers buy two sizes, try them both on at home, and return one, or sometimes both.

There’s no sizing standardization and coupled with the massive confusion caused by size charts and the problem is amplified online. Most size charts offer shoppers a confusing list of measurements that they don’t know, here’s an example:


Don’t know your Cross Back? Forgot your Back Hip Length? Can’t remember the Armhole depth of your favorite shirt? You’re not alone. What you might be surprised to hear is that there was a sizing standard, it has just been long forgotten, left out in the cold, at a time where consumers need it most:

The United States used to have a consistent sizing system, and it looks nothing like the one brands use today. Kathleen Fasanella, a professional patternmaker and consultant who has written prolifically about women’s sizing, told me that what we call a sixteen today was once “a pretty small size.” (Source – New Yorker)

While high return rates have become an expectation for most apparel retailers this is becoming harder and harder as more of their customers opt for shopping online vs. visiting physical stores. When only 5% of your shoppers buy online high returns aren’t very painful, when 25% of your shoppers are buying online it is excruciating.

2016 is expected to break every online sales record out there, the question for apparel retailers is – how can you do things differently in 2016 to reduce return rates? At Fashion Metric we’ve been building technologies to solve this problem for over three years, schedule a demo and learn more today.

2 Responses to " Apparel retailers start 2016 with a 30% return rate "

  1. […] Customers also want easy (and preferably free) options for returning their item, and to get their refund processed quickly. In fact, some customers are “serial returners”, in that they deliberately over-purchase (for example, by ordering an item in three different sizes and/or multiple colours) and then return the unwanted items. For some retailers, this can lead to very high return rates. For example, the fashion industry can experience return rates of over 30%. […]

  2. […] This is especially true for apparel retailers, who started off 2016 with a 30% return rate, according to Fashion Metric. […]

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