One third of online retailers don’t consider reducing returns a KPI, survey finds


One third of online retailers (35%) don’t consider reducing returns to be a key performance indicator (KPI) for their business, according to a survey for online virtual fitting room provider 

That’s despite over half of retailers (51%) reporting online sales growth of 25% or more per year, and 79% stating sizing has become more of an issue as they sell more online.

Yet, only 65% of respondents say reducing returns is a key performance indicator (KPI) for their business, researchers found.

Four in 10 retailers report customer inability to identify which size to buy is a major barrier to conversion online.  

Thirty eight per cent of respondents indicate selling multiple brands with inconsistent sizing standards mean sizing was much more of an issue; with vanity sizing cited as being behind fit issues by 15% of respondents. 

Heikki Haldre, founder and chief executive of, said: “A significant majority of retailers are evidently recognising they must tackle the issue of returns, as it is costs them substantial amounts of money. But it is a disturbingly large minority that still does not see the reduction of returns as worthy of being a KPI.

“E-commerce performance is not just about increasing web-based sales volumes or values; it is also about ensuring products stay sold. There’s no point in striving to push garments out of the front door while 20% of them sneak back in through the back door,” said Haldre.

Christmas and New Year, as always, will be a particularly challenging time for retailers, said 

In a separate consumer survey it commissioned earlier this year, it was reported over half (57%) of people are given clothes that don’t fit – which will surely contribute to returns rates that can reach 70% during January.

Each return comes at substantial cost to retailers, which often choose to pay for postage and repackaging of unwanted items, and must handle re-warehousing of a garment once it arrives back.  

Retailers must also factor in the probability of a reduced resale price and deal with the fallout from disappointed customers, said