Try & Buy: Here to Stay ??
Who doesn’t love having beautiful packages come home to try out new things?
Keep what you like and return the rest at leisure. This seems like a dream to most consumers and that’s what retailers have been feeding into. Order as many items/combinations of sizes as required- they will be shipped to you and then you can ship back whatever you don’t like.
But, this model is extremely hard to sustain, especially for smaller retailers and brands – who don’t have the muscle power to hedge the cost against other categories or fast-fashion retailers wherein the inventory depth remains shallow. This model has become a norm to the point that even Made to measure products are returnable.
Consumers have been slowest to adopt online footwear shopping primarily on account of fitting issues. Initially, there was even a concept called “Show-rooming” – where you tried out the shoe in the physical retail format and then ordered it online for the benefit of the deep discount typically offered in the early days of eCommerce. Today, the model has matured and merged to provide an Omni-channel experience to the consumer.
What is the real cost of returns? :
Apart from the actual transportation cost their several other factors that count towards to cost
- Quality control resources
- Re-packing cost
- Damaged pieces
- Cost of blocked inventory as in some cases consumer can hold the shoes up to 365 days before the consumer can call a return.
Left oversizes sold in the sale at discounted rates.
For a lot of shoes the distribution of sizes is not uniform- e.g: sizes 8 & 9 run true to size but other sizes run differently. It is likely that at the end of the season a few specific sizes are leftover putting the retailer in a position to discount the product in order to clear the inventory.
Shopping time & Experience?
While the entire premise of online shopping is based on quick turnaround time – the process of getting a return/exchange or refund could run anywhere between 2 days to 2 weeks or more. This often compromises the quality of the shopping experience.
Storing, delivering & retailing shoes is not definitely not the greenest process as the volume for e-commerce products. Right from production to returns the every bit of wastage only adds to the problem and in the end annually there is a fair bit of wastage:
Here is a conservative math for the footwear industry, 50% of shoes sold online are returned, and nearly 20% of shoes manufactured are unsold or marked down predominantly due to sizing. Together, these inefficiencies contribute to a 15 billion dollar loss annually to the entire industry. (Data is for USA & Eupore alone)
We believe this is the key reason for standalone footwear retailers to struggle as the cost of logistics is way too high and there are no combination products such as apparel or accessories to offset it. Even at the peak of the boom of the e-commerce cycle in India- footwear only retailers never survived, they deep discounts, low quality seller ecosystem and returns totally destroyed the viability of the business model. Not a single e-commerce player selling only footwear survived the initial boom.
How do we propose to help make this more sustainable?
Solutions built by Find Me A Shoe help digitizing and optimizing the entire shoe design process from manufacturing to returns. Right from last design to predicting returns we can help optimize the entire supply space.
Want to know more how we can help your brand? Drop us a note a shabari@ findmeashoe.com