How Apparel Brands Can Contextualize Returns Using Body Data

Struggling to determine why shoppers are returning your products? Learn how apparel brands are leveraging body data to solve this question.

Understanding shopper behavior is one of the most critical goals of any eCommerce business. Not only do these insights enable brands to develop meaningful relationships with their shoppers, but they also help identify key friction points within the shopper’s journey that often lead to either abandoned carts or product returns.

While returns are likely to be a perpetual inconvenience for eCommerce apparel brands, identifying the core reasons why shoppers return products can significantly reduce their impact on one's business. Take a look into how the leading apparel brands are leveraging body data to contextualize shopper purchase and return behaviors, revealing optimization opportunities across all business units.

Uncovering Why Shoppers Return Products Can Be Considerably Difficult

Two female executives strategizing to reduce returns through body data
Context is key when it comes to returns

From unwanted gifts to choosing the wrong-fitting size, the number of reasons for shoppers to initiate a return is virtually limitless. This makes it especially difficult for brands to identify the common issues that lead to returns without requiring shoppers to engage in processes such as post-return surveys and the like.

As new and existing eCommerce brands continue to implement lenient return policies, harmful shopping practices like wardrobing and bracketing have also seen surges in popularity. For those unfamiliar with these terms, wardrobing is the practice where shoppers purchase a product with the intention of returning it just before the end of the return window for a full refund. While the name itself implies this practice is limited to apparel, wardrobing is an issue that has affected the entire eCommerce landscape. 

Not to be confused with wardrobing, bracketing is a defensive shopping method where shoppers purchase one garment in several different sizes and return what doesn’t fit. Unlike wardrobing, bracketing is difficult to blame solely on the shopper as the practice often stems from a lack of sizing guidance and shopper confidence which brands should strive to provide from the beginning of the shopper’s journey.

How Brands Have Attempted to Combat Online Returns

A man in a collared shirt writing the words: return policy.
Brands may limit return opportunities

Industry titans like Amazon, JCPenney, and Victoria's Secret have opted to track shopper actions to identify individuals who return products more frequently than others. The reactive actions taken by these brands have ranged from limiting the offending shopper's return opportunities to outright termination of their account.

Another method brands have used to address returns is embracing the secondhand market by creating their own branded resale marketplaces where shoppers can buy and sell branded products to one another. While brands looking toward secondhand cannot eliminate the entirety of the costs associated with returns, they can salvage a sizable portion of their initial investment, especially during this time when the resale market is absolutely booming.

Despite each approach having its own benefits, shopper feedback on returns tracking has (generally) not been positive, with many raising concerns surrounding data privacy as well as claiming that banning returns is an inherently unfair practice. This especially rings true for apparel, as sizing and fit alone are significant points of friction for shoppers who often lack the tools needed to find their best-fitting sizes on the first try.

Transform Returns Into Opportunities With WAIR

WAIR's order insights in action
WAIR's sizing solution

While it can be tempting to focus on the symptoms surrounding returns, effectively reducing one’s return rates begins with identifying the underlying causes. Of course, with the lack of readily available data needed to truly understand shopper purchase and return behaviors, how can brands reasonably expect to achieve this feat? Enter the realm of body data analysis provided exclusively by WAIR.

At its core, WAIR is a modern sizing solution created to provide eCommerce apparel shoppers with seamless and personalized fit recommendations. While most modern sizing solutions rely on purchase and returns metrics (or the sizing strategy of one's competitors) for guidance, WAIR uses exclusive, 3D body data obtained from the world's largest and fastest-growing database of shopper body scans as its foundation for size recommendations. Additionally, each time a shopper uses WAIR's sizing solutions, their unique body data is seamlessly captured in the background for further analysis.

Why is this important? WAIR's body data insights can identify correlations between a shopper's body dimensions and their decisions surrounding purchases, returns, browsing, and product reviews. We help brands leverage these findings through our Order Insights feature, which conjoins each shopper's journey with a 3D representation of their unique body dimensions. Armed with this comprehensive information, brands can transform returns from a burden into an opportunity to contextualize shopper behavior and tailor their eCommerce strategy accordingly. 

While WAIR's body data Insights help brands contextualize shopper behaviors, the potential use cases surrounding this data are vast. For example, identifying the most common body shape amongst one's shopper base opens up opportunities for optimization in product design. Another use case is reducing the time spent by one's customer support team on sizing guidance. When faced with a confusing and challenging sizing process (or a high-involvement purchase), a shopper's first instinct is to consult the brand's customer support team. Having WAIR's solutions present on one's eCommerce site not only reduces the number of customer support tickets for sizing but also reduces the time spent on size-based inquiries.

It's worth mentioning that none of the aforementioned benefits require any direct input from shoppers. WAIR seamlessly and anonymously collects the shopper's information during the sizing process for brands to analyze at their leisure. During times when data privacy concerns are at all-time highs, and 30% of shoppers are outright refusing to relinquish any modicum of their information, seamless data collection methods will help overcome the personalization hurdles currently facing brands across all industries.

Short Recap

In the modern eCommerce landscape, lenient return policies are basically a requirement for any aspiring brand, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to combat the harmful effects returns have on one’s business. Leveraging new and existing resources to contextualize shopper actions will pay dividends in further reducing return rates and delighting both first-time and returning site visitors.  

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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