Once you think online shopping couldn’t get any more convenient during the Coronavirus pandemic, many major retailers have provided us with yet more ways to shop more efficiently — after all, 70 per cent of UK sales are placed on smartphones. These additions could be understood partly as a way to combat the need to return goods once they’ve been received, and a few brands have resorted to using some savvy technology to combat the cost of reimbursing customers, as well as improving their shopping experience.
By looking at recent research, it seems free shipping is more important to a customer than fast delivery. Because free delivery is a common option for many online retailers, this results in increased sales — and increased returns. Returns, of course, lessen any doubts you might have about potential clothes you’re interested in, ordering more to choose from in different colours and sizes. However, for retailers, it can cost double the amount for something to be returned than it does for delivery. And if returns are balancing orders, there’s going to be a problem for retailers.
This piece looks at different ways retailers are mitigating returns rates by helping you find the perfect garments. This is certainly important for retailers during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing is currently making returns harder for customers and retailers alike, therefore, it is important retailers can cater to customers during these unprecedented times.
From being able to virtually try your shoes on at Nike, to using a picture on ASOS to determine where that dress you saw online is from, it has become even simpler to get the product we really want.
Five months into 2020 and already one retailer in particular has innovated online shopping. Anyone who’s not a smaller size will empathise with the frustration that online shopping can bring. Whether you’re searching for suits or women’s dresses, almost all clothes are modelled on a textbook body type — toned and trim.
This is perfect, of course, if you have this body shape. However, for those who are considerably taller or a larger size, it’s impossible to envision what it would look like on yourself. Material may bunch or gape in areas you don’t want, for instance.
ASOS’ ‘See My Fit’ is a new feature which uses augmented reality to digitally map what a piece of clothing would look like on a variety of different body shapes, ranging from four to 18. Pioneering customers’ online experience, this addition is the first of its kind in Europe.
ASOS has also been instrumental in integrating a feature called style match, where customers can essentially image search for clothing they’ve seen, for example, in real life or on social media, scraping ASOS’ stock for similar clothing they have available. This not only helps customers find products but allows them to find cheaper alternatives.
DIY Makeup Testing
Renowned makeup retailer, Sephora have fused augmented reality in the beauty industry with Sephora Virtual Artist, which scans your face and lets you digitally apply numerous styles with different lipstick colours, eyeshadows, false eyelashes, and foundation colours to check what looks good on you. With it being difficult to gauge what colours can suit men and women’s skin tone, it’s particularly useful in reducing returns.
Virtual Fitting Room
An expected popular trend in ecommerce in the coming years is the ability to virtually try products on with artificial intelligence (AI). Nike is eradicating customer’s confusion around what size they should order certain types of shoes in — you might be a size nine at one retailer or a 9.5 at another, resulting in purchasing several sizes for the perfect fit.
Well the need to do this is being removed. By standing in front of a wall and pointing your phone camera at your feet, the Nike app will scan your feet and use AI to determine what size and shape your feet are and the correct size in a specific shoe. The feature takes less than a minute of your time and has precision within two millimetres.
Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts is a men’s clothing brand that offer a range of choice of shirts and tuxedos on their online website to make sure they’re perfect for you. With the ability to modify website filters, you can select your style, fit, collar size and style, sleeve length, colour, pattern, weave, and fabric weight — you can purchase the shirt that meets your exact requirements. You can also customise your shirts by selecting the cuff type, adding pockets and monograms.
The diverse selection makes it less likely you’ll return it when you’ve crafted it to meet your exact specifications. Many of us return clothes that come in one style or shape, perhaps the neck is too tight or the sleeves too short — so when you’re offered a variety of filters to craft the perfect shirt, you’re highly likely to keep it.
Over in the States, the value of returns is forecasted to increase from $350 billion in 2017 to $550 billion in 2020. Hopefully more and more online retailers will introduce innovative features to make purchases so much easier.