Online apparel returns set to rise this holiday season

The holiday season’s online sales may be off to a strong start, however consumers may not be keeping all of the clothes they purchased — not by a long-shot.

This was according to data from BodyBlock AI which revealed that half (50%) of Americans are expecting to return clothes ordered online due to poor fit. This could equate to $1.39 billion.

Having the wrong fit has significant consequences for online apparel brands, as nearly three-quarters (72%) of surveyed customers have returned items ordered online that didn’t fit. Among first-time customers, nearly half of shoppers (45%) won’t return to a new brand if the clothing they ordered didn’t fit, or if they received the wrong size.

One of the issues plaguing retailers is a lack of consumer confidence. For example, a whopping 84% of women felt that sizing was random or arbitrary depending on the brand, according to the data.

“Brands have been playing a costly guessing game when addressing the sizing and fit of their customers for decades,” said Greg Moore, CEO of BodyBlock AI. “If apparel companies don’t rethink their strategy, they will continue to hemorrhage billions of dollars every year in returns and dissatisfied customers.”

Retailers that get sizing right will reap the benefits. For example, 61% of customers were very likely to order more clothes from a brand if the first item they ordered fit them well. Meanwhile, 28% were likely to order more clothes from a brand if the first item they ordered fit well.

While consumers enjoy the theoretical ease of buying clothes online, the fear and hassle of getting clothes that don’t fit deters new shoppers, hurts conversion rates and dramatically reduces the retailer’s revenue as a result of high return rates. In order to meet their customers’ needs and deliver quality experiences that keep customers coming back, apparel brands would be wise to take a data-driven approach to apparel design.

“It’s time the apparel industry caught up to the 21st century both in terms of technological innovation and the diversity of human bodies,” the study revealed.

“By taking a data-driven approach to apparel fit, brands can begin matching the bodies of their customers to the clothes they make, rather than models and patterns,” the study added. “To do so would improve online conversions, reduce returns, secure more returning customers and create a more sustainable strategy for the modern era.”