If you’re a fashion and apparel retailer and have ever asked the question, “What matters most to my online shoppers?” this article is for you. Rakuten Fits Me recently conducted a global survey investigating online search behaviors as well as the size and fit challenges of today’s fashion and apparel-seeking consumers. This is what they had to say.
Accurate Size and Fit is a Challenge
Delivering the right fit the first time is the Holy Grail in fashion and apparel e-commerce. Research reveals 69 percent of shoppers find this difficult. The leading culprit? Improper fit. In today’s online retailing environment, return rates for ill-fitting clothing and apparel (a category bearing the highest rates of all) range between 20 percent to 40 percent. Research reveals shoppers desperately want better sizing options, and only a small percentage of consumers (14 percent) actually find size charts helpful.
TIP: To combat the "improper size that leads to returns" issue — both of which erode brand loyalty, diminish customer satisfaction and cost billions annually — retailers should focus on providing multiple size and fit options through their e-commerce site, not just through online size charts. This includes displaying consumer size and fit reviews, model info and videos, and/or offering fit recommendation technology that provides shoppers with easy-to-understand and accurate size recommendations based on their unique body shape.
Retail Must Address Online Shopping Frustrations
One of the biggest frustrations consumers experience when shopping online is searching for a desired item only to find it out of stock. Ninety-seven percent of surveyed shoppers reveal they've experienced this frustration, and 52 percent say their next course of action when seeing their desired product is out of stock is to abandon the purchase and shop another retail site.
TIP: Fast-moving fashion often results in out-of-stock merchandise. To keep customers engaged, merchants must provide additional engagement options. Best practices include offering online personal "wish lists," where shoppers can save items and be notified when desired items are back in stock.
Merchants can also overcome the out-of-stock issue is by refining online search filters to include a broad range of filter options (e.g., size, color, brand, price, price range, product category) to ensure consumers are getting the most accurate product purchasing data.
Research shows 95 percent of consumers have used search filter functionality when shopping online, and 88 percent indicate size is the most popular filter of all. Probably the MOST important tip is to absolutely ensure shoppers are only shown in-stock merchandise in the correct selected size when they're using search filters.
Solve the Fit Issue
Sixty-seven percent of surveyed shoppers believe retailers should be providing more support online to help find them their fit. No brand can afford to let their customers shop and purchase, only to find when garments are delivered that they do not fit! Solving the returns problem has plagued retailers for years, but advances in online fit technology combined with new approaches that cross-reference garment information, textile and clothing composition, stretch, type, cut and ease, along with shopper body type are solving the fit issue.
TIP: Online retailers must make fit quality a priority and provide a superior level of online support around sizing. This is the most critical step in stemming the improper-size-that-leads-to-returns issue, while dramatically improving every consumer’s online shopping experience. The net upside is bottom-line profits, which are essential to ensuring your brand remains competitive in today’s highly challenging retail arena.
Vicky Zadeh is the CEO of Rakuten Fits Me, a fit recommendation technology provider.
Related story: 3 Ways Automation Can Streamline the Supply Chain