Insight Edit – why do consumers return fashion purchases?

Leapfrogg Insight Edit

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of more than 800 premium retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

A big focus for fashion retailers is the experience they give their customers pre-conversion to secure a sale. However, if the post-sale experience means the product is returned – all the investment in acquisition and conversion could be wasted.

This week we asked our panel to give us the reasons why they have returned fashion items to an online retailer within the last six months.


Over half of our panel said they had returned an item within the last six months. This is a worryingly high statistic for those retailers selling clothes online, so we began to dig into the reasons why.

35% of our panel stated they had returned an item as it didn’t fit. This comes as no surprise given that humans come in all shapes and sizes. As a marketer, there is little you can do to change the physical product, however, you can ensure that your sizing information online is as clear and useful as possible. It’s much better to have a lower rate of conversion and lower return rate than a higher conversion level with a high return rate, especially if you are covering the cost of returns.

The next highest reason for returns is that the item received did not look like how it did online.

This is another reminder that the investment in high quality imagery of your products is crucial in the battle against returns.

Features such as zoom capability, multiple viewpoints and real life styling are becoming essentials rather than nice to haves, to both increase conversion but also reduce returns.

None of our respondents said they returned an item as it was damaged in transit. The methods and standards of delivery available to retailers are improving all the time and there should be no reason why your products are being returned due to poor delivery.

To conclude, the way a product is described and showcased online is absolutely crucial to avoid high return rates. While this may seem like common sense, there are many retailers out there who are reticent to make additional investment in quality imagery or increased product information and are scratching their head as to why their return rates are so high.

Of course there will always be a level of returns that you just can’t avoid, so ensure that your return process is as easy as possible for your customers. How helpful, easy and clear you are about your returns process can mean the difference between encouraging repeat customers and sending them off to a competitor.

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