Consumers prefer in-store shopping, but loathe fitting rooms.


Amid a so-called “ghost economy” worth $62.4 billion of returned apparel and footwear due to incorrect sizing, a just-released consumer survey from Body Labs found shoppers prefer “brands or styles they know will fit.”

The data technology company noted that 23 percent of all clothing is returned, according to those polled, and 64 percent said it was due to “incorrect fit.” The survey also revealed that 85 percent of respondents “would purchase at least one to two more articles of clothing during a single transaction if they could ensure a proper fit.”

Moreover, 58 percent of respondents said they would buy apparel “more frequently” if they could “ensure a proper fit.” The survey also showed that 57 percent of those polled only buy clothing from brands and styles they are certain will fit them.

“A third of all respondents are dissatisfied with the fit of traditional sizes and feel that traditional sizing is not an accurate depiction of their body,” the authors of the report said.

The researchers noted that nearly half of the respondents said they “hate” to try on apparel in a retailer’s fitting room. Still, 59 percent of those polled said they preferred shopping in a physical store versus online.

“There is a significant confidence gap in verifying size and fit — and it becomes even more apparent with online shopping,” the authors noted. “Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they only purchase apparel or footwear online from brands or styles that they know will fit from past experience. This appears to be one of the ways consumers can confidently shop online without physically trying on the item. However, this behavior limits consumers to specific retailers online and reduces the desire to discover new retailers or brands.”

The researchers said returns in general remains a “looming challenge” for companies. And with e-commerce, converting shoppers has also been difficult for some retailers because incorrect fitting fuels returns and creates unhappy consumers.

“To compensate for this, many online retailers offer free returns to increase sales,” the researchers said. “However, this results in a Catch-22 where the increase in sales is often offset by the much more costly shipping and overhead costs of increased returns.”

Despite offering free returns, “consumers continue to prefer shopping for clothing and footwear inside traditional brick-and-mortar stores because they understand the benefits of fitting rooms — even if they ultimately hate the tedious process of trying on clothing,” the study added.

The company said that for retailers, it’s “vital to invest in a scalable, effective and efficient way to capture the body measurements of shoppers to reduce return costs and increase purchase frequency and volume both online and in-store.”

 

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