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How To Address Apparel Returns & Supply Chain Shortages This Season

Supply chain issues compound the problem of apparel returns. Discover how you can get ahead of these challenges, and your competitors. 

Last month, Amanda Mull wrote an article for The Atlantic that explored the dark side of apparel returns. Aptly titled The Nasty Logistics of Returning Your Too-Small Pants, the article looked at how the pandemic had accelerated online shopping but in the process, also exacerbated the problem of returns with “even some of the biggest retailers in the world now see rampant returns as an existential threat”.

Beyond the sustainability issue that brands grapple with (the majority of returns are not returned to shelves but make their way to third party resellers, or are incinerated to protect brand value) the problem of returns is compounded during the holidays with the seasonal retail surge and now with this year’s looming supply chain shortages.

According to a recent McKinsey survey, “70 percent of returns were caused by poor fit or style, suggesting that shopping tools are a key lever for preventing returns and improving consumer experience. However, because retailers frequently prioritize and assess these based on improvements in conversion rates, tools that could benefit return rates are sometimes neglected.” 

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Here are a few ways apparel brands can leverage Bold Metrics solutions to slash returns and mitigate supply chain shortages.

Make it easy:

  • Bold Metrics Smart Size Chart helps connect customers to their best fit according to personal fit and style preferences in seconds, just by asking a few simple questions, none of which require a measuring tape. With a proven results rate averaging 32% reduction in returns after implementation.
  • No measuring tape, selfies, size charts or changing into skintight clothing to be scanned, required. Easy-adoption process for customers that scales with your business. Removing the guesswork means reducing bracketing, which is a serious issue for brands, especially when stock is low.

Leverage returns data:

  • Bold Metrics technology takes into account both garment tech pack data and customer returns data to generate actionable insights for its clients, enabling them to make data-backed decisions to improve multiple aspects of their supply chain – from design to distribution.
  • Its next generation Smart Size Chart was just released with Smart Inventory™ functionality to help recommend additional sizing options based on available stock, mitigating supply chain shortages by giving customers increased choice based on personal fit and sizing preferences even when stocks are limited.

Know your customers:

  • Improving the accuracy and ease of helping a customer find their ideal size when shopping online enriches the retail experience while also creating a personalized consumer journey that encourages repeat sales and boosts conversion and customer loyalty. 
  • By effectively leveraging the data collected around each customer, brands can make informed and personalized offers that are tailored to each customer’s unique tastes and preferences, making a bigger conversion impact than generic marketing messaging. And customers are less likely to return an item that they like, making it a win-win for both.
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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

With Bold Metrics solutions, apparel brands can streamline the customer journey to create a frictionless shopper experience when purchasing apparel, both online and in-store, while boosting the omni-channel experience with data-driven decisions that personalize the retail journey for each and every customer.

If you don’t have a solution in place already, it is not too late to get set up for next year. Contact us now to find out how we can tailor a solution to meet your brand’s needs and reduce fit-related returns.


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