A recent survey by software company Nfinite and Coresight Research found that 20% of items bought online are returned to retailers, resulting in an estimated $600bn loss.

The issue is particularly prevalent for fashion and apparel retailers and is driven by ill-fitting clothing and inaccurate product images.

Retailers are unhappy with increasing returns and consumers are now facing return fees from popular retailers such as Zara and H&M.

Technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) can offer size recommendations, but sizing disparities between different brands can turn a standard online shopping experience into a confusing guessing game.

Sizing technology specialist Makip, which recently launched in the US and supports more than 250 online retailers and fashion brands including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, has highlighted the issue.

Makip president Shingo Tsukamoto explained: “Retail e-commerce is going through a returns crisis, with poor fit being the number one reason for online apparel returns. What retailers and customers are craving is virtual sizing technology that recognises unique body size requirements.”

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Makip’s Unisize technology helps online shoppers to “try on” clothing virtually and purchase the most suitable, accurately sized item the first time.

The technology asks shoppers basic questions such as age, weight and height to understand the measurements of their body, allowing the sizing technology to map the individual’s body size to the clothing item, and then display how the clothes will fit the unique body size of the shopper.

The technology delivers a reduction in clothing return rates averaging 20%.

“Even though sizing technology has become increasingly sophisticated and widespread throughout the e-commerce world, the age-old problem still exists – you cannot have a standard size when there’s no such thing as a standard body,” said Tsukamoto.

Consumers finding the right fit can reduce returned items and boost both consumer and retailer confidence in technology solutions.