According to McKinsey, apparel sales in the e-fashion business grew by 11% in 2020 as the pandemic forced consumers to shop online. Meanwhile, Shopify predicts the global fashion e-commerce market will continue to grow and reach $713 billion by 2022.

However, the fact that online stores do not have fitting rooms, like in physical stores, makes adjustments to the online shopping process. Since buyers do not have the opportunity to try on the dress before buying and choose the most suitable size and fit, an increase in the number of online purchases will entail an increase in the number of returned goods.

Top reasons for returning clothes bought online

As stated in the Shopify report, the return rate for regular products averages between 8% and 10%, while the average return rate for online purchases is 30%, and in some clothing segments, it can reach 50%. But what caused such high rates?

Buying poor fitting clothes

A recent 3DLOOK survey found that sizing is one of the biggest problems facing clothing manufacturers today. Since 90% of women struggle to find clothes that fit their body, it's no surprise that 70% of the fashion retailer's returns are due to poor fit or style, according to McKinsey.

Apparel defects and other disadvantages

For online shoppers, assessing the quality of clothing before buying can be difficult. Defects and poor material of the garment are the direct reason for the immediate return of the item. Yopto states that for 79% of shoppers who return clothes for other reasons than fitting, the problem lies in quality dissatisfaction.

High expectations

Whether it's because of a poor product description, a low-quality image or no picture at all, or poor quality for that price, consumers are often frustrated when they receive a product that doesn't meet the standards they expected.

The indecisiveness of the consumer choice

Consumers can simply change their minds about buying the item. The perfect piece of clothing at the time of purchase may seem like an eyesore after the customer sees it on their body.

Simple return policy

Many retailers believe that a simple return policy is critical for sustaining customer loyalty, believing that shoppers will shop elsewhere if they cannot provide a return process that satisfies consumers' requirements.

How to reduce returns in fashion e-commerce

Reducing garment returns can be managed efficiently by e-commerce returns best practices, which will be listed below. Firstly, retailers should not be content with the high profitability of online sales, which negatively impacts the bottom line and business sustainability. Even more so, there are clothing return management techniques that can help fashion brands reduce return rates without spoiling the customer shopping experience.

Provide product clarity

Providing a clear and detailed description of each product is imperative, as it facilitates the transmission of reliable information about the purchase to the customer, which helps to form a close to the real idea of the product.

Businesses selling online should implement augmented reality solutions such as 3DLOOK’s YourFit, a unique solution for online shopping that offers photorealistic virtual fitting experience combined with highly accurate size and fit recommendations.

Use fit technology

Digital fit and sizing solutions can help shoppers find the perfect size. 3DLOOK's YourFit provides consumers with individual sizing recommendations, using just two photos to get accurate body data for each client. This not only removes the complexity of finding the right product but also provides brands with valuable data for targeting customers with product recommendations and streamlines product development, inventory planning, as well as distribution.

Give better customer support

Poor customer service can scare customers away from the brand. Since there are no in-store assistants, brands need to implement friendly touchpoints for e-commerce customers to contact a representative. According to ReturnMagic, 58% of shoppers prefer online chatting as the faster and more convenient way to communicate with the seller. Overall, knowing your clients will give you a better idea of how to reduce customer returns.

Provide ease of use

With 40% of consumers struggling to complete simple tasks on e-commerce websites, RetailDive reports, retailers should analyze whether their shopping platform causes perplexity that leads to inappropriate or unintended purchases. Product pages and checkout should be concise and user-friendly so clients know exactly what they are buying.

Offer delivery comfort

It's important for brands to remember that customers often buy clothes for the occasion, so late delivery will result in a return. The solution for retailers is to indicate delivery dates on their websites and provide this information before a customer makes a purchase.

Be trustworthy

Brands must create customer experiences that benefit them. For example, short payback windows can lead to higher returns as customers rush to make a decision. According to SalesSupply, a longer return window will not only increase customer satisfaction but also halve the return.

Businesses need to be in constant contact with customers, collecting and listening to feedback to improve the shopping experience.

We can make apparel e-commerce return rate sustainable

Clothing returns are inevitable for any fashion business and consumers are entitled to return an item if they are not satisfied. However, by following the recommendations outlined above, brands can significantly reduce return rates, which have high future growth potential.

By taking customer service into account, eliminating pain points, and using modern technology to improve the shopping experience, your fashion business can achieve a significant reduction in returns.