Practical Ecommerce

Increase Apparel Conversions with These Sizing Tips

Many women (and men) will tell you that buying clothes and shoes online is difficult, primarily because of sizing. Zappos does well with its “free shipping both ways” policy, but the wait time to exchange an item can be frustrating.

Big etailers often fail when it comes to providing accurate sizes due to using across-the-board size charts, regardless of brand. Couple that with the fact that many brands are not consistent with sizing and you have a recipe for returns.

J.C. Penney uses generic size charts for many of the brands it carries. This can lead to dissatisfaction and increase returns.

J.C. Penney uses generic size charts for many of the brands it carries. This can lead to dissatisfaction and increase returns.

A flexible return policy is nice, but what shoppers really want is accuracy. So when presenting products where exact sizing is important, be sure to include the following.

  • How the item was measured. An illustration is useful here.
Kohl’s provides illustrative instructions on how to measure for a proper fit.

Kohl’s provides illustrative instructions on how to measure for a proper fit.

JC Penney explains how to measure.

J.C. Penney also explains how to measure, despite the retailer using generic size charts across many brands.

  • Specific measurements for each brand or clothing type. There is no catchall when it comes to how brands size clothing. A “small” in one brand may be a “medium” in another. Kohls.com recently transitioned from generic size charts to brand specific.
  • Measurements of the flat article, if possible. Since people tend to measure their own body differently, measurements of the clothing itself can help, especially with tops.
Van Halen Store measuring description.

Van Halen Store provides measurements of shirts laid flat, and provides details on how each one was measured.

  • Conversion to centimeters (or inches if the default display is centimeters). This accommodates international customers as well as U.S.-based shoppers who want more accurate measurements.
  • International sizing. A size 6 in the U.S. can translate to a size 10 in the U.K. or Australia. By including conversions you can provide vital info to a broader audience.
  • The fit. Tops come in regular, semi- and slim-fit, and pants are typically fitted as slim, classic, straight, and relaxed.

When clothing is available in various size types — misses, petites, plus size — product images of various models is ideal. Shirts, for example, will look vastly different on a size 6 woman than it will on a size 16.

Body Types

Don’t forget body types, which make a big difference in how an item will fit.

Generally women fall across one of the following body types: pear, apple, rectangle, inverted triangle, or hourglass. What looks good on an hourglass frame may look horrible on a woman who falls under pear-shaped. This is determined by the cut of the shirt or dress. So if the manufacturer has provided shaping details, be sure to include it in the product description and size chart.

When it comes to pants or jeans, the fit plays a big role because the sizing is based on where the tops of the pants sit and how it is designed in the seat. Including the fit details is key, and some sites categorize or tag bottoms by fit just as they would the actual size.

J.C. Penney explains the fit of the pants it sells and lets shoppers select the fit as part of the filtering process.

J.C. Penney explains the fit of the pants it sells and lets shoppers select the fit as part of the filtering process.

Shoes

Whenever possible, compare lesser-known brands to more popular ones, or be clear about how a shoe fits compared to “true to size” fitting. For example, Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers for men run one-half size larger than most other shoes. Zappos makes this clear at the top of the product description. Zappos also collects data from customers to convey how the shoe fits overall.

Be sure to explain how a shoe fits compared to other sizes or shoe types, such as this example from Zappos at the bottom of the page: "For men's sizes, please select 1/2 size down from your normal size."

Be sure to explain how a shoe fits compared to other sizes or shoe types, such as this example from Zappos at the bottom of the page: “For men’s sizes, please select 1/2 size down from your normal size.”

Crocs used to feature a printable size chart — a PDF that printed at 100 percent so one could step on the chart to determine the best size to get. The company has since gone to a traditional sizing chart and illustrations of the three types of fits it makes.

Customer Reviews

Sadly, not all manufacturers provide the best details. Customer reviews are key, and many shoppers rely on them to determine the exact size to buy. Use reviews to better explain overall sizing.

Some customers won’t think of mentioning whether or not sizing was accurate. So be sure to ask questions or provide additional fields to collect this key info. This can not only help close more sales, but also locate problem products that should be dropped from your store’s offerings.

Pamela Hazelton

Pamela Hazelton

Bio   •   RSS Feed


email-news-env

Sign up for our email newsletter

Comments ( 3 )

  1. Fulfillment Logistics UK October 9, 2016 Reply

    Great tips. I must admit that I am still sometimes fearful of buying online because I’m convinced it won’t fit!

  2. Alex October 12, 2016 Reply

    There are number of start-ups trying to solve this problem through 3D scanning and/or keeping unique user measurements database and match it with specific product.

  3. Peter Pakarinen October 14, 2016 Reply

    Solid article but still does not resolve the issue with sizing.
    As sizing needs to be specific to brand / label or range within the label.
    Hence why a simple size chart even with measurements won’t work most of the time.
    The answer to the problem is having reference points. If you purchased a medium shirt in one size and it fitted, a large in another and it fitted then you can use data matching with other customer who have also provided feedback on their sizing. It would be simple for a company such as Zappos to do.
    After each delivery ask the client to rate the fit. The fit is then used for future purchases to recommend sizing based on previous feedback and data matching with other customers. To make it work even better all staff members should try on all the styles and rate the fit of each garment. They become reference points within the company. So when new ranges are launched, staff try on the product and when sold to the public the sizing issue has been resolved. You don’t need any fancy 3 body scanning, just good old data matching.