Greg Moore, CEO and founder, WAIR
While technology has enabled tremendous advancements across the apparel retail industry, the events of 2020 have forced unprecedented reliance on e-commerce. The converging forces of changing lifestyles during COVID-19, the inability to try on clothes in-person as stores shutter and the surge of direct-to-consumer brands have made business transformation imperative for longevity.
These concerns are now compounding the pre-existing issues already faced by an industry barely squeaking by. Apparel design strategies are flawed: 90 percent of shoppers do not fit apparel as designed. As a result, half of online shoppers expect to return merchandise because of fit. These trends have led to 40 percent of apparel being discounted or destroyed. Overall, incorrect sizing and overproduction have led to over $300 billion in lost profits for fashion and retail brands each year.
Brands must deliver a consistent experience to an increasingly global and broadening base of xshoppers, each with their own unique bodies. The first step toward business transformation in the apparel industry is to put those shoppers’ bodies and fit at the center of everything — from design and planning to marketing, sales and customer experience. And shopper body dimension data is key to the delivery of great fit.
Technology is unlocking a new era of ‘right product size’
With new technologies that bring the precision of a dressing room experience to online shopping, putting shoppers’ bodies at the center of things doesn’t have to be hard.
The first and most crucial step is understanding shoppers’ dimensions and matching their individual body with the right product size. And this is now possible with technology that seamlessly plugs into any online or physical store and works with most e-commerce platforms to create buyer personas with the highest degree of size recommendation accuracy. Full disclosure, WAIR builds these solutions to help apparel brands and retailers deliver a confident shopping experience while increasing conversions and reducing returns.
Helping shoppers feel confident that a garment will provide the fit they want reduces cart abandonment and increases conversions while also reducing returns. The result is increased brand loyalty and a healthier bottom line.
As brands build shoppers’ confidence in accurate and personalized sizing experiences, they produce a gold mine of intelligence as well, composed of metrics for managing and growing every aspect of their business: Shoppers’ unique bodies, new versus repeat consumers, products viewed versus what customers purchase, how much they spend and the factors that influence their buying decisions.
Shopper intelligence moves the needle for brands
Brands like Rhone, Cuts Clothing and ACTA Wear have adopted shopper intelligence in their selling strategy, using technology to capture their shoppers’ measurements, predict their size and provide recommendations they feel confident in purchasing. Across all three brands, this has led to an average 50 percent increase in conversions, an 11 percent increase in cart value and a 30 percent reduction in returns. Meanwhile, from the shoppers’ point of view, the data shows an 89 percent increase in their confidence around selecting the right size. Most importantly, by putting body data at the center of shopper relationships, these brands create increasingly loyal customers.
Getting fit right makes apparel better for the planet
As this weaving of accurate body dimension data throughout the business becomes the norm, it will also help ensure that clothes are produced to meet market demand precisely and then targeted appropriately to shoppers who’ll love them. In the process, this will reduce waste along the entire supply chain. The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, responsible for 10 percent of global carbon emissions and 20 percent of all industrial water pollution. Reducing overproduction and increasing sell-through will drastically reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
Positive fit experiences are loyalty drivers
Apparel e-commerce is exploding, and so are the costs. Growing revenue without concern for costs is no longer a successful growth strategy. Being strategic with acquisition costs is more critical than ever, and guaranteeing a successful fit is a huge cost saver.
There are more brands than ever producing high-quality garments. When shoppers have a positive experience with fit, they come back. But the answer is not to somehow normalize sizing across brands.
Instead, the solution is to help brands find the shoppers that fit their garments, and then — with the help of technology — make sure they can each choose the size that’s best for them. When shoppers have a positive experience with fit, they don’t return their orders — but they do return to the brand.