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Online fashion shopping is on the up but returns remain prevalent

A new survey from delivery service Hermes found 65% of respondents shop online at least twice a month (not including food) and that 97% are shopping online more or about the same than a year ago.

Furthermore, the poll, which surveyed 1,000 consumers, also revealed that clothing is the most popular type of goods bought online, with 75% of respondents shopping for apparel – books were second at 67%. The clothing figure rises to 83% for female shoppers, while three in four 16-29 year-olds buy apparel online.

Also encouraging news for pure play retailers who can’t offer click and collect is that the service ranks behind home, a safe place (such as a porch, garage or shed), a neighbour, or place of work as a preferred delivery destination for shoppers.

The less encouraging news for etailers is that 18% don’t keep all the items they order online, a 3% increase on the year and a figure that rises to 27% for female shoppers. The main reasons respondents cited were disappointment with the quality (57%), the garment did not fit (53%) and wrong size (48%).

Conventional thinking is that the more consumers shop with online retailers the more familiar they will be with sizing, but the above figures are all up on the year. Tech providers continue to offer solutions, such as the use of avatars based on measurements shoppers provide, though these technologies are a work in progress.

Plus, handling returns the way shoppers would like could prove costly. The overwhelming majority (88%) indicated that arranging returns online would be the best method, which is fine, but over half prefer email communication, while collection from home is by far the preferred pick up point.

Hermes is working on a compromise of letting shoppers drop off unwanted items at convenience stores to be collected. Two thirds of people living in cities like the idea, however this figure is down on last year’s three quarters.

This change might indicate that consumer expectations of what they have to do in the returns process is decreasing, ie could someone come and get it. If online retailers are also looking to do less, with such services as drop off points, returns will continue to be an issue for both consumer and etailer for the foreseeable future.

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