High product return rates are still dogging e-commerce sales: approximately 30% of all products bought online are returned, compared to 8.89% in bricks-and-mortar stores (Business 2 Community, 2016). As many as 75% of consumers report having returned a fashion item they bought online (Optoro, 2017). We reveal three tools/tactics halting the harmful slide back.
Live & Direct, from Web Browser to Store
As discussed in Reflexive Retail: Live, Emotional & On-Demand, British tech start-up Hero is a software tool that can be embedded into any brand’s website, allowing online shoppers to access in-store staff for viewing and discussing products in detail. Beyond spurring a 40% uplift in average order value, Hero is also reversing return rates. It’s currently working with British department store Harvey Nichols and US jeweller John Hardy.
“Because consumers can even ask the person in store to find someone of a similar size to try on items on their behalf, it stops consumers buying multiple sizes and then sending several back – giving brands a false idea of revenue,” says company co-founder and chief executive, Adam Levene.
Try Before You Pay
Similarly focused on evading false revenue, UK-based e-tail giant Asos has launched a ‘try before you buy’ service that allows customers to try on items at home and only pay for what they keep. This differs to the current system, where payment is taken almost immediately and reimbursement happens anywhere up to two weeks after items are returned. Customers also have a full 30 days to pay after the order is dispatched, without incurring any interest or fees for the privilege. Asos nudges consumers about approaching deadlines with email and text reminders.
At present the service is only accessible via Asos’ mobile app, affirming the brand’s shift towards mobile-centric commerce: 58% of its orders globally are now placed via a mobile phone, a figure that shoots up to 80% in the UK. The feature is being supported by Swedish payments business Klarna.
For more on Asos’ latest e-innovations, look out for Solving Retail’s Search Conundrum, publishing November 23.
Advances in Virtual Fit Tech
With 49% of consumers citing not being able to touch, feel or try on a product as one of their least favourite aspects of online shopping (Big Commerce, 2017), advances in virtual fit tech also remain key to reducing return rates.
In 2016, Israeli technologists Fitfully revealed a consumer-facing measurement and calibration system primed for the sportswear market. Using the easy-to-access combination of a smartphone, a piece of newspaper and a credit card, footwear fit can be assessed in just 30 seconds. Fitfully’s app guides the user on how to scan their feet (the user needs to wear a patterned sock, allowing the software to recognise the shape of their foot), producing a 3D model from around 25,000 video-captured measurements. It then provides a coloured pressure map showing where the shoe fits well (illustrated in green) and where it doesn’t (demonstrated in red). The brand began beta testing the concept with Adidas last year.