However, this behaviour is not usually due to indecision, but rather the confusion over variations in size and fit.
It’s been suggested that online retailers should request the personal measurements of consumers, and in a recent survey on the subject, 60% said they would be willing to provide this information if it meant they’d be guaranteed the perfect fit first time.
While it’s unlikely that this practice will be implemented any time soon, there are some exisiting ways retailers can help to prevent the problem from happening quite so much.
Apparently, shoppers are more likely to buy a garment if the product description describes the cut and fit. What’s more, 90% are more likely to buy an item if it includes specific dimensions and measurements.
To my mind, this would surely help to reduce the amount of returns, too.
Likewise, product reviews and on-site videos are two additional features that can give consumers a clearer picture of the size and fit of an item.
I had a recent look online to see which fashion retailers are setting the bar. Here are seven of the best examples I’ve come across.
As well as a handy size guide, Selfridges includes lots of detailed information on its product pages.
The copy is surprisingly in-depth, alluding to the cut and fit of the dress in the main description. Most sites just have a basic summary.
Even better, it has three separate sections with greater detail on the measurements and sizing.
By including the model’s height and size, consumers are able to imagine how the dress might look on their own frame.
Finally, instead of leaving it to consumer feedback, there is even advice about going up a size.
Macy’s uses ‘True Fit’ technology – an integrated algorithm that helps consumers find the correct size.
Found on each product page, it requires the user to enter specific details about their size and shape.
It then tells you how the item in question will fit (e.g. ‘loose’ or ‘true to size’) – as well as the best size to buy.
This technology certainly sounds like it would prevent consumers from buying the wrong size.
The only problem is whether or not people will commit to actually using the system, or if they’ll miss it or be put-off by having to enter in this information.
Luckily, Macy’s also implements a very good review section with a prominent section on sizing.
Providing helpful information at a glance – it’s a great alternative (and back up) for the ‘True Fit’ feature.
Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway helps consumers find the right fit by including an option to filter by ‘body type’.
(Read about more great examples of filters on fashion ecommerce sites.)
As we all know, differences in shape play a huge part in whether or not an item will fit, so being able to search based on this specific detail sounds very useful.
The site also uses social proof, allowing consumers to upload photos alongside their reviews.
While reading a description of someone else’s body type is helpful, this visual element gives potential customers a far better indication of how the item fits in real life.
ModCloth is well-known for its colourful tone of voice.
Its product descriptions are particularly clever, managing to combine inspirational language and informative details.
This extends to its reviews section, whereby users are encouraged to include detail on size as well as upload photos of themselves wearing the item.
Lastly, ModCloth includes a video outlining further information on the item’s size and fit.
Although catwalk videos on ecommerce sites are now fairly standard, the amount of detail provided by this retailer is quite impressive.
StyleBop is another site which places a lot of emphasis on buying the right size.
This mainly comes in the form of its ‘Size & Fit’ guide, which includes a comprehensive list of product measurements in both centimetres and inches.
It also highlights the fact that returns are free if an item doesn’t fit.
Interestingly, by encouraging a more blasé attitude, this might actually lead to more returns rather than reduce the amount. Slightly misjudged, perhaps?
Finally, Nordstrom includes a general feature on how to dress for your body type.
While it’s less informative than other examples – and isn’t directly related to a product – it still helps to point consumers in the right direction.
Nordstrom also includes a lot of similar content on its YouTube channel.
As well as helping consumers to shop the right fit (without the need for a tape measure), it is also a good example of relevant and valuable brand content.