By Daniel Hunter

Over half of retailers (51%) report online sales growth of 25 per cent or more per year, and 79 per cent of retailers have seen sizing become more of an issue as they sell more online, according to a survey of retail industry professionals carried out for Fits.me.

But only 65 per cent of respondents say that reducing returns is a key performance indicator (KPI) for their business.

Four in ten retailers report that customer inability to identify which size to buy is a major barrier to conversion online. Thirty eight per cent of respondents indicate that selling multiple brands with inconsistent sizing standards mean that sizing was “much more of an issue”, with vanity sizing cited as being behind fit issues by 15 per cent of respondents.

“A significant majority of retailers are evidently recognising that they must tackle the issue of returns, as it is costs them substantial amounts of money," Heikki Haldre, founder and chief executive of Fits.me, said.

"But it is a disturbingly large minority that still does not see the reduction of returns as worthy of being a KPI.

“E-commerce performance is not just about increasing web-based sales volumes or values; it is also about ensuring that products stay sold. There’s no point in striving to push garments out of the front door while 20 per cent of them sneak back in through the back door."

Christmas and New Year, as always, will be a particularly challenging time for retailers. In a separate consumer survey commissioned by Fits.me2 earlier this year, it was reported that over half (57%) of people are given clothes that don’t fit — which will surely contribute to returns rates that can reach 70 per cent during January.

Each return comes at substantial cost to retailers, which often choose to pay for postage and repackaging of unwanted items, and must handle re-warehousing of a garment once it arrives back. Retailers must also factor in the probability of a reduced resale price and deal with the fallout from disappointed customers.

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