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Why encourage online returns, when you can prevent them?

A new e-commerce trend of ‘try before you buy’ hit the headlines recently, with a number of apparel retailers offering the service. For some brands, it bridges the gap between online and offline; but it also encourages customers to over-order, with the intention of returning their unwanted items free of charge. While the concept may appeal to some, it represents a huge step backwards in the fashion industry’s efforts to become less wasteful, and more sustainable.

Online returns cost retailers an estimated £20 billion each year. Return processes are often costly in resource terms, and negatively impact on a retailer’s bottom line – as well as having significant environmental impact. Taking a step back for a moment, we should perhaps consider how the concept of ‘try before you buy’ undermines shopper’s trust that the retailer will provide them with clothes they like, and that fit.

At Rakuten Fits Me we believe retailers should first and foremost focus on solving the challenge of fit online. If accurate fit advice is provided, shoppers can be confident the clothes will look good when they arrive. Over time, this means happier shoppers, fewer returns and a far more sustainable process.

By Vicky Zadeh, CEO, Rakuten Fits Me.