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How to Reduce Ecommerce Returns with AI

Guiding a shopper’s digital experience with fit advice keeps shoppers on a path towards a confident purchase that leads to long term loyalty

Returns have long been a big challenge for e-commerce retailers. The new fitting room is at home and with the acceleration of digital shopping, retailers are under pressure to find the silver bullet to lower e-commerce returns. Shoppers expect easy return policies as retailers compete with ‘try before you buy’ programs launched by Amazon and other large retailers. The answer to return reduction is complex. Returns are a symptom of the new digital buying landscape - where a shopper’s first physical experience with a product is after they have purchased it.

To unwrap the issue of growing return rates across e-commerce, it is important to identify the many reasons that shoppers return apparel and footwear and look at behaviors that signal when they do not have enough information to make informed buying decisions.

In an article published earlier this year, Vogue Business addresses size bracketing as fashion’s hidden returns problem. Bracketing is when a shopper buys multiple sizes of the same item with the intention of returning the size(s) that do not fit.  True Fit reported that one of our multi-brand partners attributed 23% of their online returns to bracketing. This behavior is a strong signal that shoppers want more information about the size and fit of the product they are evaluating.

The practice of over-ordering online in pursuit of the right size or style, known as bracketing, seems innocent but is wreaking havoc on retailers’ bottom lines.”

- Vogue Business

This behavior is on the rise and retailers have the opportunity to meet shoppers with relevance and guidance. True Fit works with retailers to reduce returns related to fit. If a shopper puts two different sizes of the same product in their cart, they are met with a pop up and call-to-action to create a True Fit profile to find the right size.

not-sure-about-your-size

No shopper wants to buy more than one size knowing they will have to make a return. This solution delivers results for our retail partners and a great experience to shoppers. Multi brand retailers that have invested in True Fit have seen a reduction in fit related returns from bracketing by 24%. For single brand direct to consumer retailers, this reduction is by as much as 50%. 

Getting the Fit Experience Right

With inflation on the rise, the returns solution landscape is set to change again. Customers may be more hesitant in purchasing, more willing to return, or will not want to bracket, with limited disposable income. The shopper will be more motivated to order the right size with some retailers beginning to charge for managing returns.

Returns also have a heavy environmental impact. Fast Company reported that, “Shipping things back and forth creates needless greenhouse gas emissions. Only 54% of all packaging gets recycled. And an estimated 5 billion pounds of returned goods end up in landfills each year.” Many returned items that are shipped back to the retailer do not get resold. The cost of examining, repackaging and then redistributing the item often exceeds the new sale value, thus contributing to more waste. 

It is more important than ever to get ahead of the return, to mitigate it right at the beginning of the customer experience. Guiding a shopper’s digital experience with capabilities around fit guidance keeps shoppers on a path towards a confident purchase, and an experience that offers long term loyalty.

To learn more about reducing ecommerce returns, listen to True Fit’s Unwrapping Retail’s Return Conundrum Podcast and get in touch with us to strategize about returns.