When a customer can’t try the product on before they buy there is a much greater chance that they will end up with the wrong size. This is why about half of online returns are due to sizing issues.

The inability to try something on before you buy it has drastically increased return rates of online brands. While retail return rates hover around 8%, online brand return rates jump up above 20%. This is especially true of online apparel brands.

The solution you hear most often is to include a sizing guide, but is that enough? Let’s take a look at what creates confusion for online shoppers and dig into a few ways you can solve them.

Why do customers have a hard time finding the right size online?

Before jumping into how to solve sizing communication, let’s first look at why these issues happen in the first place.

  • Variation across brands: A size ‘small’ doesn’t mean the same thing across all brands. This means every time a customer shops somewhere new, they have to go through the trial-and-error process of figuring out the right size again.
  • Little to no point of reference: Most brands feature photos of 5’11” models to display their products. Unfortunately, most of us – including our customers – are not 5’11” models. This means that customers don’t have a helpful point-of-reference when it comes to guessing what their own size might be.
  • Preference: Some people prefer tight-fitting clothing, while others prefer a looser fit. These varying preferences can further complicate the sizing process.

Here are what some of the top brands on Shopify are doing to reduce sizing related returns:

Build a top-notch size guide

We are saying top-notch because there are a ton of sizing guides out there that are pretty useless. Let’s take a look at a great example from one of the brands we really respect, Mizzen+Main.

There are a few reasons why we love this size guide:

1. It uses a variety of images (both illustrations and photographs) to give you a sense for what the different types of dress shirts look like.

2. The sizing chart is easy to read and makes it convenient to toggle back and forth between the Trim, Classic, and Blazer.

3. It includes more detailed recommendations (distinguishing between regular vs. no tuck vs. tall) for even further guidance.

Again, while a well-constructed size guide is a great first step, there’s even more that can be done to help customers identify the right size before purchasing your products.

Let customers share information with each other

Customers trust information from other customers. When you allow people to leave reviews for your product, they can share pertinent information with others who are considering making the same purchase.

Take a look at the reviews below for a Cotopaxi product. As you can see, customers will go into detail about the product size they purchased and how it fits compared to their height and weight. This is a great way to give other customers a point-of-reference for their own sizing.

Be specific with your visuals

One of the hardest parts of purchasing items online is that customers don’t have the opportunity to touch or try on the products. This means the next best thing that brands can offer are high-quality visuals. A few tips:

  • Include multiple photos. It can be a frustrating experience for a customer to visit a product page and see that only one or two photos are available. These photos are the only way for people to see how a product fits, examine the material, and get a sense for the color. To avoid blocking them in their decision-making process, provide as many photos as possible – from various angles – and give customers the ability to zoom in and out or have a 360 view. If possible, add video to the mix as well. 
  • Aim for diversity. As we mentioned before, most customers aren’t super tall, skinny models. To make your product photos more relatable, feature various body types to provide additional points of reference. Conscious Clothing is a brand that does a great job with this. They provide multiple photos for each of their products, featuring people of various heights and body types.

Offer sizing experts

If you have a product that’s more complex to fit, or you simply want to go above and beyond for your customers, offer up the opportunity to chat with sizing experts to help determine the right fit for them. Chubbies is an example of a brand that provides this additional service.

Knix is another brand that goes the extra mile with fitting support. As an intimates brand, which faces added complexities in sizing, they offer virtual fittings to help customers figure out the most accurate bra size for them.

It’s an effective way to use your support team’s resources since it can potentially prevent a return or exchange from happening, and it also shows your customers that you’re not leaving them high and dry when it comes to fitting challenges.

Take advantage of feedback

Ultimately, customer feedback can tell the most powerful stories about your product and brand. That’s why, at Loop, we give brands the ability to collect feedback directly from their customers during the returns process. With enough data, you can better communicate the sizing of your products. Here’s how:

  • Look for themes. Your customer data can point you to trends in sizing. For instance, maybe 68% of your customers noted that your pants tend to run big. Or 74% of them indicated that your tops are looser than expected. These are all useful insights that can be leveraged to guide customers to the right size. 
  • Communicate your findings. If you do notice themes around sizing in your data, communicate them to your customers. You can include specific recommendations next to your sizing chart or even directly on the product page – just as Allbirds does in the example below. This way, if customers are stuck between two sizes and are unsure of which one to pick, you can guide them in the right direction.

Go the extra mile for your customers

Even with the best sizing communication possible, a customer still might end up with the wrong size. While preventing a return from happening is step one, it’s also important to handle the returns you do get with the customer in mind.

Build a customer-focused return policy that shows existing and future customers that you are committed to making sure they get the right product for them. If you want to automate that process while still keeping an amazing customer experience, Loop is here to help.