Are Size Charts Useful If Shoppers Can't Measure Their Bodies?

Size charts have become the standard sizing method in apparel eCommerce. But are they useful if shoppers can't measure themselves properly?

A recent study by WAIR revealed that 87% of shoppers place size confidence as a high priority when purchasing apparel online. With such emphasis on getting sizing right the first time, one would assume brands have pulled out all the stops to help shoppers order their best-fitting products. Unfortunately, that isn't quite the case.

Antiquated sizing methods such as size charts and fit guides continue to be grandfathered in by new and existing apparel brands despite their well-known drawbacks and inefficiencies. While these methods have become somewhat of a "standard" within the world of apparel, have brands ever considered how effective shoppers are at using them?

Collecting Accurate Body Measurements Can Be Difficult

Competency in one's ability to collect their own body measurements is the most critical factor when relying on legacy sizing methods like size charts. If shoppers do not possess the tools (measuring tape) required or cannot size themselves properly, the effectiveness of these methods is rendered null and void. Shoppers are quite aware of this fact, which is why they often spend a considerable amount of time capturing their measurements to ensure they get sizing right on the first try. Those who lack a measuring tape or cannot be bothered to spend 10-15 minutes of their own time capturing their measurements will often guess or order multiple sizes with the intent of returning those that don't fit properly; this practice is known as bracketing or size sampling.

It doesn't help that most shoppers consider existing sizing methods as completely broken by design. A recent study conducted by WAIR determined that only one in every ten shoppers consider size charts reliable and that 60% of shoppers view them as outdated. When faced with sizing methods that seem futile and require considerable effort, it is no surprise that one in every four shoppers simply guesses their size when purchasing apparel online. But regarding the few shoppers who both own a measuring tape and commit to measuring their bodies to determine their best-fitting size, how competent are they in performing this task?

Are Shoppers Accurate in Capturing Their Body Measurements?

In most cases, determining shopper competence in capturing their body measurements would be impossible as one would need to know the true body dimensions of the shopper beforehand. Fortunately, WAIR has access to the body scan data from over 2.5 million people, enabling us to accurately identify discrepancies between shopper body dimensions and their personally captured measurements.

Our team requested eCommerce shoppers from across the globe to measure their chest, waist, hips, inseam, and sleeve length to determine how proficient they were at capturing their measurements; these were the results:

A chart showing the deviations between shopper measurements and their true body dimensions, proving size charts are not a valid solution for eCommerce

As we can see, the average miscalculation between measurements is so significant that most shoppers will find themselves ordering one size too large or small because they could not accurately determine their size. The plot truly begins to thicken when we get to measurements such as inseam and sleeve length, where the average discrepancy between the measurements neared a whopping 7 inches. When asked if they were confident in the measurements they provided, only 50% of shoppers responded that their captured measurements were accurate, meaning that essentially half of your shoppers are playing a guessing game whenever they order apparel from your eCommerce site.

When looking at stats like these, the eCommerce sizing crisis finally begins to make sense. Brands have treated antiquated and ineffective sizing methods as the established norm even though shoppers cannot use these methods effectively. As a result, they guess which size fits them best, and in most cases, their guesses are considerably inaccurate, leading to increased return rates, decreased shopper satisfaction, and defensive shopping habits such as size sampling; it's a vicious cycle driven wholly by complacency.

What's the Solution? Sizeless Commerce

Since shoppers cannot (and shouldn't) be relied on to play the role of personal tailor, major apparel brands such as Vineyard Vines, Rhone, and CUTS Clothing have implemented modern sizing solutions to ease the shopper burden through sizeless commerce. While most modern sizing solutions ask shoppers to take pictures of themselves or download an app to obtain a size recommendation, WAIR took the road less traveled to help brands transform sizing from a hindrance to a benefit.

WAIR's sizing solutions require the absolute minimum effort from the shopper. We simply ask a few easy questions about their body type to gauge their unique dimensions. Their answers are filtered through our database of over 2.5 million body scans and refined by our AI-driven algorithms to predict the shopper's best-fitting size. No other sizing solutions have access to a database this vast and diverse, which is why they often rely on purchase and returns data or the sizing strategy of your competitors during the sizing process.

WAIR's sizing solution in action

While WAIR's solutions eliminate the need for shoppers to measure themselves, our unique value add goes far beyond size recommendations. Each time a shopper uses our solutions to find their best-fitting size, their body data is seamlessly captured in the background. WAIR filters this data into powerful dashboards, which provide brands with the information needed to optimize all areas of their business, including inventory management, targeted marketing, customer support, product design, and much more.

For those doubting whether shoppers would even use a modern sizing solution, our recently conducted survey revealed that over 80% of shoppers would be open to using alternative sizing methods. With WAIR, brands can provide their shoppers with the sizing solutions they desperately need while benefiting from body data insights that don't require shoppers to submit any personal information, a win-win for all parties involved.

True Innovation Doesn't Leave Sizing Behind

During the early days of eCommerce, brands were essentially bound to size charts and fit guides; but those days are long behind us. As other areas within apparel continue to evolve, brands simply cannot afford to allow their sizing strategies to remain stuck in the past. Now is the time for brands to remove sizing friction from the shopper's journey and unlock the potential that lies within sizeless commerce.

Interested in learning more about WAIR? Schedule a demo here and be sure to follow us on TwitterInstagram , LinkedIn, and Facebook for all your fashion content needs!

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