Which online tools best prevent returns? – RetailWire

November 12, 2021

Customer reviews are the number one method considered most effective by consumers for reducing online returns, but some emerging product display elements have potential, according to Narvar Fifth. Annual Report“The State of Returns: Finding the Right Fit.”

Asked which tools helped prevent them from making a return when making an online purchase, the survey of just over 1,000 adults found:

  • Reviews from other customers, 83%;
  • Sizing charts or measurements, 77%;
  • Photos and description of the product on the retailer’s site, 73%;
  • See on models of different shapes and sizes, 66%;
  • Suggested sizes based on other brands I wear, 64%;
  • Augmented reality (AR) to visualize on me or at my place, 58%.

None of the tools turn out to be the silver bullet.

Fit, size or color issues remain the top driver of returns, accounting for 42% in 2021. Similarly, 13% of returns were attributed to inaccurate product details.

Shoppers overwhelmingly rely on more traditional resources that tend to lower returns: 88% use photos, descriptions, reviews and size guides. However, the effectiveness of these methods seems mixed because the precision is often insufficient.

Of the 42% of buyers whose last return was due to fit issues, 88% did so despite using at least one of the return prevention tools listed above to support their purchase.

Among the most recent methods, 27% of respondents often use tools to visualize elements on a variety of models. asosAerie and Lululemon are among the few retailers to feature the same items on online models of different heights, sizes and shapes.

Only 11% of respondents “often” use tools that suggest size based on other brands. last fall, Enthusiastic said an online AI-powered tool that uses surveys and past purchases and returns to predict shoe sizes reduced call volume related to fit and sizing by 50%.

Only 7% of survey respondents “often” use augmented reality (AR) technology. Although augmented reality has been used to test makeup on faces and furniture in homes, it’s still rarely used for the two main categories coming back online: clothes and shoes. A recent app, Chewy’s”Fur-tual Storegave pet owners the chance to virtually try on their pet’s Halloween costume.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What short-term and long-term solutions do you see to reduce returns in fit categories such as apparel and footwear? Do you see any new methods cited in the article supplementing or replacing the traditional methods?


“Online returns are one of the reasons stores will be with us forever.”

“Ultimately, repeat buying can be the best return prevention tool because consumers already know it’s working for them.”

“I’m ready to see standardized sizes between brands. Right now, a medium at one retailer might be a very small at another.”


Melvin G. Rodriguez