Buying clothes online can be one of the most dangerous experiences for both the supplier and the consumer, and the reason for this is perhaps most exemplified by a movie legend. Winston Grooms character Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” Buying clothes online is exactly the same, you never know what you are going to get. This is particularly true if the buyer has no prior experience or knowledge of the brand he is contemplating buying, which can be problematic to say the least.
Why is shopping for clothes online so troublesome? Clothing is one of those commodities open to interpretation about the size and “fit” of the garment, for example, in the US, the waist size is generally attributed to the waist of the wearer’s body, whereas in the UK the waist size of clothing is concerned. to the dimensions of the garments and not to the body of the person.
You can see where this can cause problems right away when shopping for pants or jeans. One question is the American, English or European brand?
Do consumers bother asking that question?
Of course not and why would they? Consumers want solutions, not obstacles, they want their requirements met with as little fuss as possible. Consumers are not concerned with the complexities of the way clothing is designed and its specifications.
In Germany, large online catalog brands such as Neckermann and Otto have built multi-million Vlone Nav Hoodie euro buildings to handle the products returned by their customers. German culture is to buy three sizes of each clothing product, try them on, and keep the one that fits you best while returning the other two products to the catalog company. This is cultural and ingrained to the point where companies explain and evolve it based on this methodology. Big brands in the UK have also started to practice this measure and use on-site warehouses the size of aircraft hangers to store and re-sort returns for sales areas. This has become much more prevalent thanks to the sharp increase in online shopping.
It could easily be interpreted that if the large multinational brands in the garment industry cannot ensure higher sales conversion and fewer returns. What hope, then, do the smaller players have of ensuring that they are not overloaded or, worse, that their cash flow is impeded?
Speaking from the perspective of a workwear supplier, we’ve often come across online shoppers who are very quick to return products that they say don’t fit. Taking fault returns out of the equation, as this would be a separate issue, returns returned due to “wrong” leg length or waist size are very common reasons.
We don’t blame customers as the vast majority are actually victims of brand misrepresentations of size and maybe the big brands have spoiled them a bit by allowing returns to be returned for whatever reason. However, for smaller businesses, this can essentially return the problem and cost back to that business. Some people believe that this is simply a cost of running an online business, but there are ways to minimize exposure to these costs and problems.
We’ve all tried on clothes in stores and warehouses that just didn’t look good even though they were our size. If you can’t physically see the products and try them on before you buy, then their simple logic is to expect a higher level of returns, and the big brands have written this contingency into their pricing structure to cope with the higher percentages of returns.
The smaller supplier does not have this elasticity in their business model to absorb costs or increase margin, since they mainly supply products with market prices and not “private label” clothing like the big players.

The future of online clothing shopping