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Major UK body-sizing survey aims to radically cut online returns

Leading UK clothing retailers have backed a major survey to collect sizing data from thousands of consumers. And that’s big news for online retailers and their customers in a move that could radically reduce returns of non-fitting merchandise.

Six major stores — Asos, Next, Monsoon, New Look, River Island and Tesco — are working with Select Research to collect a nationwide sample of 30,000 men and women in an effort to end inconsistent sizing, which causes half of all items bought online to be returned.

Called Shape GB, it will see those retailers encouraging customers to take part in the survey by using a smartphone app to determine their body volume indicator (BVI), an update to the body mass index (BMI) measurement. The system will be used to measure the weight distribution in seven areas of the body (arms, legs, chest, pelvis and abdomen).

The survey will be carried out using an app developed by Shape GB and open to anyone with an iOS device. It will collect two photographs (which will be deleted after use, we’re told) and the answers to a short questionnaire.

The firm claims its technology can measure the weight distribution of those seven areas of the body in 3D so it can accurately capture body volumes for retail clothing.

Richard Barnes, founder of Select Research, said: “This Shape GB project will help with the problems we have with sizing by measuring and including body shape as an integral part of the process.

“Since we did the last national sizing survey in 2001, we have changed due to natural evolution and lifestyle choices, but we don’t know how or by how much, so we need to understand body shape better.”

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