12 APR, 2016
Size Me Up, Buttercup.
"I just can't find my size!"

That's an oft-heard and well-experienced war cry of the modern shopper. People come in all shapes and sizes and if there's one place where the one-size-fits-all mantra doesn't cut it — it's in online fashion. Size guides differ from one brand to the next and the problem is compounded when you add the conversion table to the mix. Centimetres to inches, feet to metres — it's almost like an unwanted math problem on your path to finding the perfect outfit, shoe, or undergarment.

Fashion's biggest problem got even worse once the search for convenience brought brands online. No matter how desirable an outfit looks in a picture, you're dogged by the question of whether it will fit, size conversion charts are a nightmare, and you end up exactly where you started off — with an empty cart and a long wish list.

We've all been there.

When we at Pixibo stumbled upon this simple problem in April 2016, it looked like an interesting challenge to take on. It was exciting because despite size and fit inconsistency being prevalent since the 1900s, brands were yet to find a long-term, universal solution to this conundrum. Interestingly enough, the size dilemma has impacted retail fashion since decades. You would know if you've had the misfortune of being stuck in line with a handful of pretty outfits, waiting for the trial room, on a Saturday evening.

Apart from the differences in sizes that exist when you go from one brand to another or from one geography to the next, we realized many brands applied their own rules and relaxed size measurements to attract the audience.
Vanity sizing, or size inflation, has existed since as early as 1937. It refers to the tendency of brands to assign smaller sizes to readymade clothes over a period of time, in order to encourage higher sales. The logic is fairly simple — as the population grew larger physically, the same sizes grew as well so the wearer ends up feeling like they're still the same size even though they could be much bigger. Smaller size labels beef up the self-esteem of the wearers, and the bank accounts of the brands.

Vanity sizing is prevalent across categories and is just as common for both menswear and womenswear. Often actual measurements are 2-3 inches larger than the indicated size. The problem is a lot more aggravated for women who encounter a wider range of variability in sizes as they go from one brand to another. The same woman might wear a size 4 in one brand and a size 10 in another.
What all this variation in sizes and fit lead to is a great deal of confusion for online shoppers who don't have the liberty of trying out clothes before purchasing them. As a result, conversion rates in online fashion are a lot lower than other segments and range from between 1.5 to 3 percent. The problem of high returns accentuates the problem even further as a large number of purchased products are sent back, often at high cost to the seller. A high return rate is one of the biggest problems of online shopping, often accentuated during the holiday season. Reports suggest return rates of 30 percent or more are common during the holiday season. This number touches up to 40 percent for clothing. $90B of holiday shopping in 2015 was attributed to online shopping. Understandably, this is a significant area of concern for fashion brands that are looking to expand their online customer base.

It isn't surprising that poor fit is cited as the number one reason for return in the US. Retailers in the US report a return rate of between 20% and 40% for online sales.

What's an intelligent solution that can take tackle the problem of size inconsistency, low conversion rates, and combat high returns?

Head over to wearepixibo.com to find out.

Watch this space for more.

Rohit Kumar is the CEO and Co founder of Pixibo. He's on a mission to change the way people shop.