According to the National Retail Federation, 20.8% of ecommerce purchases were returned in 2021.
And a 2019 survey from e-commerce marketing platform Yotpo found that 88% of shoppers had returned fashion items purchased online in the prior year, with 51% returning between $50 and $500 of merchandise.
(“Fit” and “quality” were the top reasons cited for returns, and almost half of respondents said that their purchases looked different in person than online.)
Which is why if you’re trying to reduce apparel and footwear returns in your ecommerce business, you need to start by getting serious about your product detail pages.
Almost EVERY online shopper considers accuracy in the product detail page to be “important” or “very important” to their experience.
So, with all of that said, use the following checklist if you’re ready to start improving your product detail pages and reducing the number of returns you’re forced to process.
Ecommerce retailers use strategic lighting, pinning, and clipping to optimize the depiction of their apparel and footwear. But sometimes, doing so creates an unrealistic expectation of what a given product actually looks like.
Therefore, ecommerce retailers should adhere to the following best practices when it comes to photography:
In addition to style specifics and fabric content and care, comparative details, like the fit model’s size, can help shoppers break the habit of bracketing, reducing returns in the process.
Reformation is just one of the many retailers that includes the model’s height, waist, hips, and bust measurement, in addition to the size garment they’re wearing in the photo.
Suitsupply includes the model’s height and chest measurement in jacket sizing. If a customer is usually a size large, but sees that the model, who has similar measurements, is a medium, the customer may realize they need to to size down.
Retailers should also consider including sustainability data in product descriptions. A Global Sustainability Study conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners found that 85 percent of people shifted their purchase behavior towards being more sustainable in the past five years, while 61 percent of Americans cite sustainability as an important purchase criterion.
Thorough product descriptions include the following information:
An NIH study found that customer reviews can “reduce the risk of mismatch” between a customer’s expectation for the product and reality.
A similar study done by Northwestern University found that retailers who include a “star rating” of 3 or higher on product detail pages see more purchases than retailers who don’t include a star rating.
Much like product descriptions, reviews (especially those with customers’ own photos) offer prospective shoppers comparative data points.
Rent the Runway, whose business model depends on getting a customer’s size right the first time, uses customer reviews exceptionally well.
Each review includes the customer’s height, weight, bust size, body type, and age data, and asks the reviewer to include the size garment they wore, their usual size, how the garment fit, and the occasion for wearing the garment. Prospective renters can browse the reviews for past customers with similar body types to select the correct size.
The most valuable product reviews include the following:
Ecommerce demands that customers take a leap of faith—accepting that the retailer’s photography and product descriptions are accurate, and the quality is satisfactory.
Enhancing product pages with more information on the front end—and updating them with the sizing information retailers receive through post-purchase feedback or returns—can bridge the gap and help minimize apparel and footwear returns in the future.
Ecommerce is a fluid process, not just in terms of the purchase and return of goods, but in the transfer of information. Schedule a free Narvar demo and learn how to leverage customer reviews and data to boost business.
Currently the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Narvar, helping 1300+ of the world's most-admired brands—including Sephora, Levi's, and L'Oréal—take their post-purchase experiences to new heights. Born and raised in San Francisco, but I've lived all over the world. Previous residences include Seattle, Denver, Santa Monica, Kinsale (Ireland), and Wellington (New Zealand). Writer by trade, football player by passion, and tall by genetic lottery.