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Buying clothing online is easy and convenient, but it also comes with a sizable risk – namely the consumer doesn’t know how an item will fit. Across the globe and across brands, companies don’t have standard sizing and a size 6 at H&M. Online shoppers often buy and return to get the correct size, or just plain don’t buy at all, both of which cuts into a retailer’s bottom line. To reduce costs associated with free returns and restocking, brands are turning to a variety of high-tech, online sizing applications to help consumers ensure they are buying the correct size for their body.

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To boost sales, online retailers sometimes offer free shipping and or returns to encourage people to buy without the risk of choosing incorrectly. According to, a biorobotics company that polled German online shoppers, about 35 percent of them have not bought an item because they were worried about the fit. At the same time, free returns has a high cost for the retailer because they have to pay for shipping, restock the unwanted items, deal with any damages and reship a new item. There is also potential brand damage because the consumer doesn’t have as good of an experience when returning an item than if they got the item and liked it right away from the beginning. The major factor in these online returns is incorrect sizing, which is exacerbated by a non-standardized sizing system.

Retailers are looking for ways to make it easy for consumers to pick the right size for their height, weight and body type. These solutions now come in a range of website applications to help the consumer make an easy and informed decision. For instance, offers a virtual fitting room plugin that can show you exactly how you would look in an item. Upcload offers a size advisor that helps you select size and fit by choosing bodies that most resemble your own. MiFitto is a German app to help improve shoe size selection by uploading a tracing of your foot. Then there is Virtusize, which allows shoppers to compare sizes of online items to ones they already own. Finally data information provider Blue Yonder advises its clients to alert customers to the environmental impact of multiple shipments or returns, which helps cut down on returning items.

While there is no one app that as emerged as the clear winner, any method a retailer can use to provide better sizing information makes it easier for a customer to make a more informed decision. The goal is to make it more convenient, while reducing waste and cost to create a better shopping experience.

[Via Reuters]