Online returns are bad. Bad for bottom lines, bad for the environment, and bad for the customer. Luckily, data analysis has taught us why shoes are returned more online (hint: it’s not because the customer ordered multiple pairs knowing they’d return some!).

 

The best kind of research is one that finds the cause of a problem AND proposes a solution. Heeluxe first started analyzing online returns in 2015. We hypothesized that the returns were due to (a) the product looked or felt different than the customer expected or (b) the customer bought more pairs than she really needed and planned on returning some. We were so wrong!

 

Heeluxe brought in 100s of shoes in every footwear category to analyze their performance and hopefully figure out why certain styles were more likely to be returned. Luckily, 2015 was the same time that we started analyzing shoe fit with sensors.  The #1 reason why a shoe would be returned was fit. But it wasn’t all types of bad fit; shoes are more likely to be returned if they fit too tight on the side of the ball of the foot and on the pinky toe. Since we’ve learned this lesson Heeluxe has accurately predicted styles that have higher return rates for retailers.

 

Another interesting piece of information: our analysis shows that fewer than 1/3 of shoes ordered online were from people ordering multiple styles or sizes with the expectation that they would return some.

 

If you want to reduce your returns (and simultaneously reduce environmental strain and improve your bottom line): focus on a more generous forefoot fit.