Consumer research has revealed that 52% of online shoppers are not willing to pay for returning clothing items that did not fit correctly, despite many retailers now charging for the reverse logistics.
The rising volume and cost of returns is a problem that has plagued retailers for years, and in 2022 industry research shows that online returns rose to one in three items – costing retailers an average of £20 for every returned package.
The study stressed this is unsustainable and is a driving force for many retailers charging customers for returns as they attempt to offset some of the costs they incur.
New research commissioned by sizing technology firm Makip has highlighted that online shoppers would not be prepared to foot the bill for returns if there was no accurate sizing guide available at the time of purchase.
President of Makip, Shingo Tsukamoto, said: “Retailers must improve the accuracy of their online sizing technology if they hope to claw back some of the costs they incur when shoppers return clothing items.
“If retailers can give consumers confidence that the online sizing technology they are using is accurate, they stand not just to reduce the number of items returned – but to improve the customer experience and increase conversion rates.”
The research, conducted in March 2023, confirmed the majority of UK online shoppers (96%) would purchase clothing if they could be confident that the sizing technology used was accurate and it demonstrated how the clothes would fit their body.
“It is clear that UK retailers and customers desperately need accurate sizing technology that recognises unique body size requirements. After all, you cannot have a standard size, when there’s no such thing as a standard body,” continued Tsukamoto.
However, UK online shoppers do have some sympathy for retailers as the awareness of the environmental impact and cost of returns to retailers increases.
When asked whether it’s acceptable for retailers to charge for returns given the majority of returned items cost the retailer more or end up in landfill – half of UK online shoppers (50%) thought it was acceptable.
Tsukamoto concluded: “Given that 23 million items of returned fashion were sent to landfill or incinerated in the UK in 2022, it is imperative that the industry works hard to help change consumer behaviour and one critical change sits in providing accurate sizing technology.”
Read more in the DeliveryX Returns 2023 report, which explores how technology could be key, not only in reducing returns through better fit platforms, but also in understanding the reason consumers are sending items back in the first place.