Are online returns killing your business? Here’s how some of the big retailers are fighting back

New tech in the digital fashion arena is helping to minimise online return rates

The race is on for retailers to make online shopping even more convenient. For this reason, many major retailers are working on more ways for us to shop more efficiently. After all, 70 per cent of UK sales are now placed on smartphones.

The latest advances are providing a way to combat the need for shoppers to return goods once they’ve been received. Meanwhile, a few brands are using savvy technology to combat the cost of reimbursing customers while improving the overall shopping experience.

According to research, free shipping is more important to customers than fast delivery. And because free delivery is a common option for many online retailers, this often results increased sales. However, this also usually means an increase in returns. Retailers offering free returns gain confidence from consumers as they order a selection of colours and sizes to try on at home. But for retailers, it can cost double the amount for something to be returned than it does for delivery. And if returns are balancing orders, there’s going to be a problem for retailers.

So, here, we’ll explore different ways retailers are mitigating returns rates by helping shoppers find the perfect garments. From trying trainers on virtually at Nike to uploading pictures on ASOS to determine where something is from, this is how it is become easier for shoppers to find what they want online… 

See My Fit

We’re not that far into 2020 and already one retailer in particular has innovated online shopping. Anyone who doesn’t wear a smaller size will empathise with the frustration that online shopping can bring. Whether you’re searching for men’s shirts or women’s dresses, almost all clothes are modelled on a textbook body type: toned and trim.

This, of course, is fine if you have this body shape. However, for those who are considerably taller or a larger size, it’s impossible to envision what it would look like on yourself. Material may bunch or gape in areas you don’t want, for instance.

ASOS’ ‘See My Fit’ is a new feature that uses augmented reality to digitally map out how a piece of clothing will look on a variety of  body shapes. Instantly upscaling its customers’ online experience, this addition is the first of its kind in Europe.

ASOS has also been instrumental in integrating a feature called Style Match, where customers can essentially image search for clothing they’ve seen in real life or on social media. Its system will then check the website’s stock for something similar. This not only helps customers find desirable products, but also allows them to find cheaper alternatives.

Virtual Try On

What is suspected to become an extremely successful and popular trend in e-commerce in the coming years is the ability to virtually try products on using artificial intelligence (AI). Nike is eradicating customer confusion around sizes (you might be a size nine at one retailer or a 9.5 at another) with a feature on its app. 

Yes, by standing in front of a wall and pointing your phone camera at your feet, the Nike app will scan your feet and use AI to determine  the correct size in a specific shoe. The feature takes less than a minute and has precision within two millimetres. 

Customisable Shirts

Charles Tyrwhitt is a men’s clothing brand that offers a range of shirts on its website to suit exact requirements. Using website filters, shoppers can select style, fit, collar size and style, sleeve length, colour, pattern, weave, and fabric weight. Shoppers can also customise their shirts by selecting the cuff type, adding pockets and monograms.

The inclusive selection makes it less likely that its shirts will be returned. Many shoppers return clothes that come in one style or shape – perhaps the neck is too tight or the sleeves too short. So, by offering a variety of filters to craft the perfect shirt, they’re more likely to keep it. 

 In the US, the value of returns is forecasted to increase from $350 billion in 2017 to $550 billion in 2020. Hopefully more and more online retailers will introduce innovative features to make purchases so much easier.

Photo by Curology on Unsplash