As they say, your customers are your business. They can make or break you. Therefore, to look forward to growth and a lower return rate, a business needs to strengthen its relationships with its customers by means of improving its customer service and product quality and clarity. However, it’s not as simple as it appears. There’s a whole lot of science and effort that goes into it.
Studies show that the average online shopping return rate is about 4 times higher than the average in-store shopping return rate. The reason is clear: in-store shopping offers the “try-before-you-buy” option, which is not available in the case of online shopping. Technologies such as YourFit are cropping up, which offer buyers a virtual try-on experience. However, it’s a long way to go before all fashion brands start offering this virtual fitting room experience.
Common Cause of the High Return Rate in Fashion E-Commerce
Whereas COVID-19 almost shattered the world economy, it jacked up the e-commerce market. According to a Shopify study, the fashion e-commerce market, because of its convenient method of shopping with easy return processes, is projected to hit $173B by the end of the ongoing year (i.e., 2022), growing at a rate of 10.6%.
However, due to certain dishonest practices as well as honest mistakes committed by both the retailer and the customer, the escalating return rate is constantly plaguing the fashion e-commerce market. Every second, a truck full of clothing is sent to a landfill, most of which is returned clothing. As per a study carried out by Optoro, only half of the returned stock goes back to stores, resulting in a huge loss estimated to be around $550B per annum. This way, the fashion e-commerce market is not only damaging the economy but it’s also become the second-biggest threat to the environment after the oil industry.
Here are some reasons why the fashion e-commerce market is facing a burgeoning return rate.
Purchase and Return Convenience
While convenience is what is driving this market forward, it is often exploited by customers. Knowing that they can always return, they don’t sometimes even bother knowing if they really need what they are ordering. The Cash-on-Delivery (COD) payment option has further aggravated the problem by reassuring them that they can always say ‘no’ to the delivery guy and refuse to receive the parcel. This reassurance is only swelling up the return rate.
Sizing is one of the major concerns of online sellers. Although they share a size chart, customers find it difficult to use it. As a result, they have the wrong size delivered, which they later send back to the seller.
You can’t know what a fabric feels like until you touch it with your bare fingers. This inability to feel the product, coupled with its deceiving photos, makes it near-impossible to evaluate its quality and spot the defects. Pulled threads, snags, rough stitches, and low-quality materials are some common defects.
Some manufacturers often exaggerate to sell their items better, which raises customers’ expectations. The two most common forms of exaggeration are inaccurate product descriptions and enhanced visuals. Upon not receiving what they expect, customers feel disappointed and return the product.
Many people make a purchase and later regret it. What they wanted so badly is something they no longer need. That’s for several reasons: they thought the item would look just as good on them as it did on the model wearing it in the picture, but it sadly doesn’t; they spotted the item at a cheaper price elsewhere, or they decide to wear something else.
Ways to Minimize Fashion E-Commerce Returns
Returns affect not just your sales, but also your credibility in the market. Here are some practices you can adopt to lower your return rate.
Improve Your Brand Loyalty
Loyalty is the foundation of any relationship. Businesses need to improve their brand loyalty to improve their sales. Their customers need to be able to trust them to do business with them. To boost your brand loyalty, for example, you can offer your customers long return windows or give them a discount or a gift of gratitude. All such gestures are meant to reinforce your relationship with them.
Incorporate Technology into Your Business Operation
We live in a digital world where everything uses technology to work. Keeping up with the latest technology can go a long way toward bringing down that sky-high return rate. For example, you can use YourFit to offer them a virtual try-on experience. The technology makes size recommendations based on just a couple of photos it requires. You can also enhance the look of your website and make it more friendly and interactive.
Expand Your Social Presence
Make a page on all of the major social media platforms to reach out to more people and better connect with them. Businesses that are active on social media come across as being more responsive and responsible, creating a positive image.
Enhance Your Product Clarity
Add clear, detailed, and honest product descriptions with as much size information as possible and high-quality images so that your customers know what they should expect. You can also add product videos to give your customers a real 360o view.
Follow Up with Your Customers
Keeping a follow-up with your customers shows you care for them. To do that you can send them good wishes on special occasions and/or share updates with them via email. You can also ask them for their feedback or suggestions. There are many ways you can stay in contact with them.
Focus on Your Packaging
No matter how tasty a berry trifle is, if it isn’t well-garnished and well-presented, no one will want to try it. Businesses need to improve their packaging to make their items more tempting and ensure safe delivery. Such things might appear minor, but they can do wonders for your business.
The swelling return rate in the online fashion market is one of the biggest challenges it is confronted with. With just a bit of understanding of what customers really want and how to satisfy their wants, fashion brands can easily deal with this challenge.
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