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Ben Freedman headshot
Ben Freedman
Brendan Maaghul headshot
Brendan Maaghul

Hey! Brendan Maaghul here. I am a co-founder of Boomerang, and I am part of the problem I co-founded Boomerang to solve.

We believe that transparency and trust are core to our retailer relationships. If you’re a retailer interested in working with Boomerang, I need to come clean.

I am a serial online returner, particularly with clothes. Like most, my online shopping habits have increased over the past two years. I will routinely order multiple sizes and colors of the same, or multiple similar SKUs to make sure the vibe is right. To add insult to injury, I will also let these returns sit until the last possible minute.

In my defense, shopping online is tough to get right the first time. I’ve listed a couple of factors below that I hope you’ll consider in defense of the online shopper.

What size am I?

I’ll keep this brief, since this topic has been covered by many others, but trends such as vanity sizing as well as general inconsistency across both men’s and women’s clothing brands make it difficult to shop across brands. While I may be a large at LL Bean, the chances are slim that I would fit into a Large at a European fashion brand.

Consumers also need to account for size differences within brands. There are multiple, sensible reasons for this, namely multiple finished good vendors and varying strategic merchandising decisions across lines. The downside for your customers is, a Large cotton pique polo may fit differently than a Large woven short-sleeve button down.

Criquet

It gives me comfort to know I am not alone. An August 2021 Shopify survey found that over 50% of online returns are due to size and fit. In general, consumer preference-based returns (encompassing size, fit, style, etc.) drive ~72% of all fashion returns.

One Size Does Not Fit All

I’m tall (6’3”), and have long arms (I wear a 37” dress shirt sleeve.) Depending on the cut and sizing options of the shirt, I could be a Large, Large Tall, Extra Large, Extra Large Slim Fit, etc. Often times an XL will give me enough sleeve coverage, but the excess size in the waist will have me swimming in fabric.

While I do appreciate the Dadcore and Normcore aesthetic, clothes should fit the way you want them to fit.

Justin Beiber
Seinfeld

This practice of customers buying multiple sizes with the intention to return items that don’t fit or that they don’t like is called ‘ Bracketing.’ Consumers like me love the optionality, but retailers like you understand that each return has a slew of logistics and handling costs associated with getting items back in stock.

Bonobos
Bracketing
Even though these returns are an expense for retailers, for me, it makes it easy to try on these different brands and figure out my size, so I can shop quickly and more easily the next time I’m in the market. Plus, from what we’re hearing from soft-goods retailers, the vast majority of items returned (90%+) are able to be restocked, so the risk of product loss is minimal.

As we detailed in our article, “Should I offer free returns? And other mysteries of the modern return policy,” the medium to long-term customer acquisition benefit of allowing your customers to easily buy and return items can outweigh the short-term costs associated with processing and handling returns.

Call of the Suburbs

When I lived in New York City, I returned items within a couple of days of receiving them. I walked past a FedEx, UPS Store, and a Post Office on my way to work. My office had regularly scheduled carrier pickups. There were also retail locations of almost every omni-channel brand you could think of, where I could easily drop off returns in-store.

Most importantly, I only had ~12 cubic feet of free space in my apartment, and I was not about to fill that up with cardboard boxes.

I also had much greater access to brands, both through their own stores, as well as department stores. If something caught my eye, I could very easily go try it on in person. No retail store in the area? There’s a good chance that a department store or boutique would have it available to try on.

However, after moving out to the suburbs, along with many others my age, my shopping habits changed. Though my access to trees and fresh air increased, my easy access to a wide range of physical stores and merchandise decreased.

For returns, dropping off packages turned into a 30–45 minute round trip. I also found myself working even more than before, and became less motivated to run errands with the time I was able to carve out for myself. Space also became less of a concern, so I could let more returns pile up without creating a fire hazard. Even after getting vaccinated, my desire to stand in line inside decreased significantly.

My returns mission changed from ‘get these returns out of my apartment as fast as possible’ to ‘let me minimize my trips to the UPS store.’ This sentiment led us to found Boomerang, which uses at-home pickup to power a range of solutions for retailers. Your customers will love it (and are willing to pay for it), and it can help you get your items back in transit ~22 days faster when compared to carrier drop-off.

New Job, Same Me

We started Boomerang to tackle one of retail’s thorniest issues. In a perfect world, your customers would buy a measuring tape, become more decisive, and stick with the items they originally purchased. Unfortunately, we don’t envision your customers returning less going forward. It has become so easy to get items delivered quickly, and consumers are becoming more accustomed to shopping online.

The Boomerang team is focused on providing retailers with the solutions and expertise needed to tackle returns. We have worked with and for, bought from, and returned items to hundreds of retailers. Though returns are prevalent among apparel brands, our current customer base & wait list includes a range of companies, from apparel to home goods to kitchenware and household items.

So, drop us a line! We would love to chat returns with you.