Reducing High Return Rates in India’s Fashion E-Commerce: A Comprehensive Guide for Brands

Agam Chaudhary
4 min readFeb 4, 2024

The Indian fashion and clothing industry, a vibrant and exponentially growing sector within the e-commerce market, is projected to reach unprecedented heights in the coming years. With the e-commerce fashion market size ballooning, fueled by increasing internet penetration and a burgeoning middle class, the opportunities are immense. However, this growth comes with its set of challenges, chief among them being the high rate of product returns. Returns not only erode profit margins but also contribute significantly to operational complexities and environmental concerns. For small to medium-sized direct-to-consumer (D2C) players, the impact is even more pronounced, with returns cutting deeply into already thin margins and affecting overall sustainability.

Statistics reveal that the fashion e-commerce sector experiences one of the highest return rates, sometimes touching 30–40%, a figure that starkly contrasts with other categories. This high return rate is attributed to various factors, including sizing issues, discrepancies in product expectations, and customer’s ease of returning products. For burgeoning brands, especially in a competitive market like India, these returns translate into millions of dollars in lost sales and operational headaches, making return rate reduction not just a priority but a necessity for survival and growth.

Here are 20 actionable strategies, supported by examples of brands that have successfully tackled the return challenge:

1. Implement Detailed Size Guides: ASOS’s approach with detailed size guides and virtual fitting rooms has significantly reduced size-related returns.

2. Leverage Virtual Try-On Technology: Lenskart’s use of AR for eyewear fitting has improved customer satisfaction and reduced returns.

3. Utilize High-Quality Product Images: Zara showcases the effectiveness of using high-resolution images to give customers a clear expectation of products.

4. Provide Accurate and Comprehensive Product Descriptions: Everlane’s commitment to transparency in product descriptions helps in aligning customer expectations with reality.

5. Encourage Customer Reviews and Ratings: Amazon’s extensive use of customer feedback provides insights that aid in purchase decisions, reducing return rates.

6. Focus on Improved Packaging: The North Face demonstrates how durable packaging can minimize returns due to damage.

7. Offer Flexible and Clear Return Policies: Zappos has shown that a generous return policy can paradoxically reduce return rates by building customer trust.

8. Use Fit Prediction Tools: Stitch Fix’s data-driven approach in predicting customer sizes and preferences minimizes returns.

9. Conduct Quality Control Checks: Patagonia’s rigorous quality checks ensure high product satisfaction, reducing returns due to defects.

10. Provide Personalized Recommendations: The success of Netflix’s personalization can be mirrored in fashion e-commerce to minimize mismatched expectations.

11. Create Customer Feedback Loops: Nike’s use of feedback for product improvement has enhanced customer satisfaction and reduced returns.

12. Standardize Sizing and Promote Sustainability: Adidas’s efforts in sizing standardization and sustainability help in reducing returns by setting accurate expectations.

13. Offer Educational Content on Product Care: Levi’s guidance on denim care helps customers maintain products better, reducing returns due to wear and tear.

14. Enable Real-time Customer Support: Shopify’s real-time support model can be adapted to fashion e-commerce to solve issues before they lead to returns.

15. Implement AR for Better Visualization: IKEA’s AR tool for furniture can inspire fashion retailers to help customers visualize products in use, reducing dissatisfaction returns.

16. Utilize Social Proof and Influencer Endorsements: Gymshark’s effective use of influencers offers a realistic view of products, aligning expectations.

17. Optimize the Checkout Process: Apple’s streamlined checkout process reduces impulsive buys, which can lead to returns.

18. Curate Subscription Boxes: Birchbox’s personalized boxes minimize returns by closely matching products to customer preferences.

19. Promote Eco-conscious Packaging and Returns: Patagonia’s emphasis on environmental responsibility encourages more thoughtful purchases.

20. Integrate Social Media Feedback: Fashion Nova’s rapid incorporation of social media feedback into product development aligns offerings with current trends.

In conclusion, while the strategies above provide a comprehensive roadmap for tackling high return rates, the dynamic nature of the fashion e-commerce landscape in India requires continuous innovation and adaptability. For brands that find these challenges daunting or seek to optimize their strategies further, Two99 emerges as a potent ally. With our expertise in leveraging technology, storytelling, and a plethora of other skills, we excel in reducing return rates, enhancing customer satisfaction, and driving profitability. Whether it’s through sophisticated AR try-ons, personalized shopping experiences, or engaging and transparent storytelling, Two99 is equipped to address the nuances of return rate reduction, empowering brands to thrive in India’s competitive e-commerce space.

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Agam Chaudhary

Agam Chaudhary is a serial entrepreneur & investor in tech-enabled and ecommerce industries.