Aug 5, 20196 min read

Does Size Matter? For Fashion Online Retailers It Should.

Louise Lindberg headshot

by Louise Lindberg

Plus size, petite and tall are just some of the labels that clothing brands use to offer a fit for everyone. Inclusive sizing is smart, both from a marketing and a customer loyalty aspect, but does it actually help fashion shoppers find the right size and minimize the hassle of shopping for clothing online?

The inclusive sizing trend is in no way new – you have no doubt noticed it around by now – and it’s a great trend for merchants to jump onto. The main idea is, of course, that it includes everyone and gives all consumers clothing that will fit their unique size. But no business trend comes without some element of profit to it, right?

Kayla Merci, market analyst at fashion technology firm Edited, pinpointed it quite well when talking to Retail Dive:

“Inclusive sizing is becoming less of a trend and more of a necessity across all product types. 67 percent of American women are a size 14 and are voicing their need for fashionable products regardless of size. This is a need that brands can no longer afford to ignore.”

If almost 70 percent of American women are plus size, it naturally means there’s some money to earn in that area. Marketdata analysts estimate that the plus size market will be worth almost $26 billion by 2020.

Retailers who want a slice of that pie would do well to remember the importance of one of the basics of online fashion retail: a good returns policy offered as part of a smooth ordering experience. After all, haven’t we all been through a bad experience when it comes to returns? A fresh survey of over 2000 Klarna consumers has shown that 77 percent of US shoppers would be unlikely to buy from an online retailer again if they had a poor experience with returns*.

Being able to make returns is essential, especially for fashion shoppers, and even more so for women. This is simply because the fit is so important when shopping for clothes, and for women there are numerous different fits. According to a report from Global Data, online returns will increase by 27.3 percent by 2023.**

The overall return rate is expected to go down though, since the volume of online shopping is growing even faster. It also helps that companies are starting to find ways to make it easier for customers to choose the right fit – many of the solutions are quite creative, actually. Here’s some inspiration for you.

Let’s start with the basics

You might think this one is obvious, but it still seems that not all fashion retailers succeed in providing it properly. We’re talking about high quality product visuals. It’s one thing to see the fit on different body types, but if your customers can’t see the actual color or details on the clothing they’re buying, they will still end up disappointed.

One retailer that’s doing a really good job of showing their clothing properly is sports brand Gymshark. They have high-quality pictures which give their customers the opportunity to zoom in on the details. Not that you really need to zoom in yourself, because they already have close-ups on display:

Videos can be a really helpful addition to pictures, particularly to show how the clothes move around on the body. Asos is just one of many online fashion giants who are already using video to bring products to life.

Make it real with AR technology

One effective way to help your customers find the perfect fit is with a helping hand from technology. AR technology lets shoppers get an idea of how clothing will look on different body types – clothing giant Asos has an app which showcases their clothes on different sized people. They also have a tool where you can fill in your measurements to receive a size recommendation for the chosen piece of clothing.

This is a rather simple way of using AR technology, but some companies have taken it even further. Fashion brand GAP literally gives its customers a picture of what the clothing will look like on their bodies. In their DressingRoom app, customers are able to select their size and body type to create an avatar of themselves, which they can dress in the clothes they’re interested in.

And did you know that 60 percent of people, at any given time, are walking around in the wrong size shoe? In North America, as many as half a million people every year complain about purchasing the wrong size shoe size. These findings from Nike led them to apply some fresh new technology to their app. Now, customers can simply use their smartphone camera to take a picture of their feet, and voilá! Nike will select the right shoe size for them.

But – are returns always a bad thing for merchants?

No, quite the opposite actually. Shoppers who regularly return goods tend to shop more frequently and spend more money, the study from Klarna shows. Let’s have a look at two other interesting findings in the report:

  • 75% of Americans say that free returns are essential to purchasing online.
  • 72% of Americans feel that a feature that allowed them to pay for only the items they keep from an online purchase would be valuable to them.

It’s pretty clear that you, as an online retailer, need to have the option for your customers to return products. Then add a feature where your customers only pay for the items they actually keep, and wow – you’ve covered everything!

And hey, Klarna’s got your back on this one. Klarna works with over 130,000 merchants, including world-renowned fashion retailers such as Asos, H&M, and Topshop, to offer payment solutions across Europe and North America. The fintech unicorn gives online consumers the option to pay now, pay later or spread payments over time – offering a trusted, frictionless and smooth checkout experience.

And of course there are benefits for merchants as well. Although your customers can pay later for the items they actually keep, you as a merchant will get paid upfront. This leaves all the risk to Klarna, while you can put your efforts elsewhere.

To sum it up: A good returns policy is a must-have within fashion retail. However, you as a merchant can decrease your returns rate (and your customers’ frustration) with smart technology and clear pictures and descriptions of your products.

And one last thing: Don’t forget that size does matter.

*Re-thinking Returns, Klarna 2019.
**Online Returns in the UK, 2018-2023. Global Data 2018.