If you asked your favorite clothing brand if it knew the body measurements of its customers, the answer would likely be no. In fact, not many apparel brands or retailers do, and this lack of insight results in poor-fitting clothes, increased returns, and far too much wasted product.
Amidst a global pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the fashion and apparel industry, WAIR surveyed 50 apparel brands and retailers to uncover how the alignment of product size to shoppers’ bodies affects planning, logistics, sales, and overall business performance.
Our findings reveal that the fashion industry has a poor grasp on customer size and preferences, and shines a light on how paramount it is for apparel companies to get to know their customers’ bodies for brand confidence, customer loyalty, profitability, and sustainability.
Here’s what we learned:
Brands and retailers have been slow to adopt size-and-fit technology.
Technologies that may have been seen as a “nice-to-have” before the pandemic rapidly accelerated the shift to e-commerce have now become critical for long-term survival. Size-and-fit technology falls into this category, and is something that 80 percent of brands admitted to not using despite the majority stating that determining size and fit is a challenge their customers regularly face. Thankfully, our research shows this is changing, with brands planning to implement various tools to guide customers towards finding their perfect fit when shopping online. The top three tools include size-and-fit recommendation technology (51 percent), purchase history (29 percent), and virtual try-on and visualization tools (27 percent).
Lack of insight into shoppers’ size and preferences negatively impacts sell-through.
As things stand, brands and retailers are struggling to maximize full value sell-through, and lack of insight into their shoppers’ sizing and preferences is to blame. More than half (53 percent) stated that they don’t really know what their customers want, and 36 percent don’t know enough about their shoppers’ sizing. This area is particularly challenging for brands for a couple of reasons. The first being that the “perfect fit” is extremely personal for each shopper, and the second being that there aren’t many tools that focus on helping brands increase net kept revenue. However, there are a lot that make it easier for customers to return their products.
Sizing needs to be the first line of defense against returns.
Returns are a well-known logistical nightmare for apparel brands that result in high shipping costs and lost customers. Our findings show that 20 percent to 60 percent of orders are returned due to poor fit, highlighting how critical it is for brands to be able to lead their customers to their ideal size the first time around. When asked about the value in having a better understanding of the body dimensions of shoppers, 64 percent of respondents stated fewer returns would be the biggest benefit.
Sizing impacts the customer experience.
Getting size right from the earliest stage in the customer journey is crucial in building customer loyalty, yet more than half of respondents (53 percent) said determining size and fit is a challenge visitors face when shopping on their website. And giving customers a negative experience results in a handful of harmful consequences, including lower conversation rates (55 percent), diminished brand loyalty (49 percent), cart abandonment (45 percent), and increased returns (41 percent). Brands that are able to simplify the size selection journey and provide shoppers with confidence that they’ll get the best fitting size will see increased conversion and more satisfied customers.
Sustainability is top of mind for the industry.
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, so it's not surprising to find that nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said they sometimes or frequently produce or purchase too much inventory. Fortunately, the majority of respondents said it's critical to become more sustainable over the next one to three years, and the rise in consumer demand for increased sustainability practices will make it even more essential for brands to live up to their promises.
While it’s clear that the fashion and apparel industry feels the pain of poor fit in both brand and bottom line, there’s a huge opportunity to make fit better — especially as brands revamp their strategies to align with this new era of retail. Those that prioritize sizing and implement tools that make it easy for shoppers to find their perfect fit early on will reach news levels of profitability and sustainability, and those that don’t risk falling behind.
Greg Moore is the CEO of WAIR, the AI-driven modern solution for personalized fit. WAIR provides personalized size recommendations that bring the precision of a dressing room try-on to the online shopping experience.
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