Online Apparel and Footwear Returns Sapping Retail Profits

Online Apparel and Footwear Returns Sapping Retail Profits

Body Labs estimated that up to a quarter of apparel and footwear acquired online in the United States last year was returned due to sizing issues.

The company, which sells online retailers technology to reduce such returns, estimated the value of those returns reached $62.4 billion and contribute, along with out-of-stocks and overstocks, to what IHL Group has dubbed “The Ghost Economy,” that is sapping retailer and brand profits.

The estimates are based on a nationally-representative survey of 1,130 respondents taken April 6-14 regarding their retail purchasing behaviors. Survey participants ranged across all adult age groups, genders, U.S. regions, ethnicities and household incomes. The results have a +/- 3 percent margin of error.

The 2016 Apparel & Footwear Retail Survey Report also found:

  • Nearly half of consumers hate trying on clothes, but the majority still go through the fitting process.
  • Majority of consumers will only purchase clothing online from brands or retailers that they know fit them from past experience.
  • 64 percent of apparel shoppers and 57 percent of footwear shoppers say that ‘poor fit’ was their biggest reason for returning clothing
  • 34 percent of shoppers are unsatisfied with traditional clothing sizes
  • 85 percent of clothing shoppers and 72 percent of footwear shoppers would purchase more if they could ensure a proper fit
  • 58 percent of shoppers would buy more frequently if they could ensure a proper fit

“Poor fit is one of the biggest drivers of returns for online and in-store shoppers,” said Bill O’Farrell, co-founder and CEO of Body Labs. “From our consumer survey, it’s clear that shoppers are not satisfied with their experience when trying on clothes, and often times, realize later that clothes don’t fit and are forced to make returns. If retailers could deliver a better fit experience personalized for each shopper, it would cut costs considerably from returns, restocking fees and logistical related costs for managing returned inventory.”

Data from the 2016 Apparel & Footwear Retail Survey Report indicates that an overwhelming majority of shoppers are not satisfied with the fit of clothing and footwear. Among those surveyed, 58 percent of shoppers would buy more items at the time of purchase if they were ensured a proper fit.

“For retailers and manufacturers, a consumer pain point can be translated into an opportunity,” said O’Farrell.

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Manhattan, Body Labs collects, digitizes and organizes all of the data and information related to human body shape, pose, and motion. Its mission is to transform the human body into a digital platform upon and around which goods and services can be designed, produced, bought and sold.