When Rakuten subsidiary Fits Me released research last year showing that the average woman will change dress size 31 times in the course of her adult life, it created tremendous media buzz. In a way, the surprised reaction was as telling as the number itself – as it revealed the disconnect that exists between perceptions of women’s bodies and reality. Less commented on – but no less surprising! – was the fact that men change their clothes size 24 times as adults. Suddenly, clothes shopping seemed a whole lot more complicated than we once thought – for both sexes.

And there were other interesting facts in the Fits Me whitepaper, too. As the company continues to develop its unique technology allowing shoppers to feel confident that their online clothing purchases will fit them, it is gaining unique insights into how shoppers feel about engagement, loyalty, and personalization in retail.

The entire whitepaper is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights:

Fits Me data about online shopping.

Shopping for clothes online can still be a challenging experience

Perhaps it is an indication that retailers’ innovations in search are not keeping pace with the demands and expectations of its customers, but Fits Me’s data suggests that 80% of shoppers generally have a difficult time finding what they are looking for. The frustration is especially acute among women, of whom 86% say they have a difficult time either “Always,” “Often,” or “Sometimes,” while only 14% “Occasionally” or “Rarely” have a difficult time.

Fit-based curation finds favor

With 88% of respondents having been annoyed at some point by the lack of sizing consistency across retailers, there is strong support for the use of fit to filter the choice available to customers. When asked whether being shown only items that the retailer knew would fit them would help them to choose, almost four-in-five respondents replied ‘yes’, with only 4% replying negatively.

Price over loyalty

A majority of respondents (56%) consider themselves to be loyal to a handful or fewer apparel retailers or brands. But when the researchers dug a little further they found that loyalty may fall by the wayside when given broader comparative context. In fact, when asked which statement respondents agreed with most, more than double (29%) chose “I like to shop around for the best price” than chose “I am always a loyal customer of my favorite retailers” (14%).

Balancing personalization and smart use of customer data

The key to a personalized shopping experience is data. If the retailer is doing their job right, the more information a customer will share and the better and more personalized their shopping experience will be. But with this possibility comes a warning to retailers: beware of the creepy factor. Consumers were especially creeped out when they couldn’t understand from where the information about them had been acquired (22%); when they felt the retailer had no right to know a specific piece of information (17%); and when a retailer they had never bought from sent them something personalized (17%). So, retailers, tread lightly here and be as transparent as possible with your customers. They’ll thank you for it.

If you’d like to read Fits Me’s full white paper, please visit this download page.