If you like shopping as much as we do, then you’ve likely experienced your fair share of returns. It’s not a fun process for anyone involved, and retailers are increasingly trying to curb what they refer to as the “ghost economy,” or the unseen costs that rack up when consumers are constantly returning their purchases.
In an effort to help brands and retailers address this problem, the research company Body Labs investigated the online and offline shopping behaviors of consumers buying apparel and footwear in its 2016 Fashion & Apparel Survey Report. The team came back with some interesting findings about what most commonly causes customers to make returns and how brands can work to resolve this.
Keep reading to see what the team discovered…
Of the people surveyed, Body Labs found that nearly half of respondents shopped for clothing at least once a month, but interestingly, 59% prefer in-store to online shopping. What’s more, 24% of them said they avoided shopping online entirely. Given the comparative ease of online shopping, this is pretty surprising.
It was especially true with footwear, with 95% of people wanting to try shoes on before they decided to buy. This makes sense, given the diversity of footwear on offer, but consumers also feel that trying on shoes in-store is a lot easier than trying on clothing (which involves a dressing room process that 46% of respondents claim to “hate”). That said, 70% of them say they will suck it up to ensure fit.
And it turns out, that poor fit itself is the number one cause of returns in the country, with 77% of those surveyed citing the problem as especially common with their online purchases. Of those consumers, 57% will only order clothing and footwear online from brands whose sizing they know well, which helps to build brand loyalty but can cause newer retailers to suffer.
To help resolve the issue, Body Labs offers three recommendations for brands to adopt, though they’re not necessarily the easiest to install (or pay for). The implementation of 3D scanners would allow retailers to take detailed measurements, which could lend themselves easily to custom apparel and size recommendations. Another, less technical option would be to collect their customers’ measurements prior to producing clothing—averaging segments of the dataset so as to deliver clothing more in line with their consumer base. Once the fit problem is resolved via one of these methods, the perfection of virtual try-on can further help customers see how a garment will hang on their body. Although these solutions may seem far off, we wouldn’t be surprised to see brands adopting them in the near future, totally transforming the shopping experience as they go.
Do you prefer shopping online or in-store? Let us know in the comments, and shop some of this week’s best new arrivals!