Why Sizing is One of the Most Important Elements in Apparel eCommerce

An eCommerce team developing their stack

When it comes to a brand’s eCommerce stack, sizing strategy tends to take a slightly lower priority than it rightfully should. The fashion and apparel industries often pride themselves on being at the forefront of innovation yet most brands continue to rely on sizing methods that were developed several lifetimes ago. This lack of innovative action places a burden onto shoppers who (in most cases) don’t even own a measuring tape to size themselves up with.

As the consequences of a poor sizing strategy are potentially cataclysmic, we thought it would be prudent to share why sizing is one of the most important elements for any eCommerce apparel brand.

Traditional Sizing Methods are Woefully Outdated and/or Complex

Size charts were first created in the early 1800s as several global conflicts drove the need for ready-to-wear clothing for soldiers. While there have been several updates to sizing standards since then (with the USDA Study of 1939 and the later “Commercial Standard”), sizing methods have remained almost wholly tethered to the measuring tape for over 200 years now.

Not only are brands relying on sizing methods from the days of Napoleon, but there is also an inherent complexity behind size charts. As the hopes for a universal sizing standard vanished with the Commercial Standard, brands have taken it upon themselves to develop their size charts in-house, based on the body dimensions of their ideal shoppers.

As one could imagine, this resulted in significant inconsistencies in sizing between brands as each aims to target different segments of the overall apparel market. There’s also the issue of differing sizing systems between countries which adds to an already complex and frustrating sizing experience for shoppers.

The Risks of a Poorly Executed Sizing Strategy

A poorly executed sizing strategy will have a significantly negative impact across all business units and company initiatives including:

An eCommerce team planning their global strategy

Global expansion

Brands take significant risks when bringing an unrefined sizing strategy into global markets. Take Banana Republic, for example, the main reason why their expansion into the United Kingdom failed is that UK shoppers were given size options they could not comprehend.

An eCommerce shopper abandoning a cart

Generating and retaining profits

When brands do not strategize on how to convey their sizing strategy to shoppers, the resulting size confusion creates a significant barrier to conversion. According to Bolt, 35% of all online carts are abandoned because shoppers are “not sure about fit” It’s also worth noting that size confusion remains a driving force behind eCommerce return rates accounting for 70% of all eCommerce returns in 2021.

An eCommerce team building their brand image through sizing

Improving one’s brand image

Brands that eliminate points of friction throughout the shopper journey will see a significant boost in brand image and shopper loyalty. Take WAIR’s brand partner CADOGAN as an example, their team wanted a premium sizing solution to complement their line of exquisite leather jackets, so they integrated WAIR’s Fit Advisor to streamline sizing and enhance their shopper’s journey. The result? Nearly 40% of all orders are now made through Fit Advisor and CADOGAN’s average order value has also significantly increased. 

A globe hanging on a hangar

Sustainability

The apparel industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world accounting for 2-10% of all carbon emissions. One of the primary drivers behind this monstrous carbon footprint is shipping wastes that are created during the processing of online returns. When brands provide their shoppers with the tools needed to order their best-fitting products, the number of environmentally damaging returns decreases as a result. During these times of conscious consumerism, more and more apparel brands will be looking to improve their sustainability efforts moving forward. 

A customer support representative

Support team efficiencies

When shoppers are faced with a high-involvement apparel purchase but remain confused about sizing, they are going to look to a brand’s support team for assistance. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue if the event was relatively infrequent, but a poorly executed sizing strategy can quickly have a brand’s support team drowning in tickets that could have been avoided had sizing strategy been given higher priority status. 

How Brands Can Convert Sizing From a Hinderance to a Benefit

Despite the overwhelming reliance on outdated sizing methods within the fashion and apparel industries, there are modern sizing solutions available that have far surpassed the era of size charts and measuring tape. But while the majority of these sizing solutions rely on purchase and returns data (or your competitor’s sizing strategy) for sizing reference, WAIR does sizing a bit differently.

WAIR's Fit Advisor size solution

WAIR is a modern sizing solution specifically curated for eCommerce apparel brands. The foundation of WAIR’s sizing algorithm is our exclusive database of over 2.5 million body scans taken from real people across the globe through our sister company Fit3D. Through our Fit Advisor sizing solution, WAIR is able to align each unique shopper with a body scan that is identical to their unique dimensions, providing them with unrivaled sizing accuracy in an easy-to-use package.

WAIR's insights dashboard

While sizing is WAIR’s forte, we are much more than an easy-to-integrate sizing solution. As Fit Advisor provides shoppers with their best-fitting products, boosting their confidence and increasing conversion rates, valuable body data is also being captured in the background. This body data provides additional insight into the body dimensions of a brand’s shoppers, opening up opportunities for efficiency gains in inventory management, product design, targeted marketing, and so much more.

But don’t just take our word for it, ask our brand partners Rhone, Mac Duggal, Amour Vert, and many others who have benefitted greatly from WAIR’s sizing services. On average, WAIR’s brand partners see a 10-20% increase in AOV, a 600% increase in conversion rates, and a significant reduction in size-based returns.

One of the Most Important Elements of eCommerce

The importance of one’s sizing strategy cannot be stressed enough when it comes to apparel eCommerce. No other element of eCommerce can provide such ample opportunity when given the appropriate amount of attention but can also spell disaster when neglected in place of other business objectives.

Interested in learning more about WAIR? Schedule a demo here and be sure to follow us on TwitterInstagram , LinkedIn, and Facebook for all your fashion content needs!