Supply and Demand Challenges in The Women’s Plus-Size Market

The plus-size clothing market is the fastest-growing segment in the industry. It’s anticipated to reach $288 billion this year, and it represents the purchasing power of 67% of American women. So, why do less than half of online retailers provide inclusive sizing options?

Plus-Size Online Shopping Statistics

Fast Simon recently analyzed 40 mainstream online retailers that don’t sell exclusively to plus-size shoppers. Here’s what we found.

  • 85% of the retailers had search results for “plus-size,” but only 43% of those items were actually plus-size.
  • Of the brands that have inclusive sizes, two-thirds use an alternative term, such as “curve,” or offer extended sizes, which is not the same as plus-size.
  • 25% of online stores limit their plus-size sections to denim. 

The inconsistent use of terms and limited options make it difficult for shoppers to find what they’re looking for and create frustrating shopping experiences. There’s a clear demand for more inclusive sizing, and retailers who do it well will have the advantage in the fastest-rising segment in the fashion industry.  

Supply and Demand Challenges in Fashion and Apparel

Nailing supply and demand in the fashion industry is hard. Even retailers that are making an effort to provide plus-size options need better visibility into what items and sizes shoppers want to ensure that they’re meeting demand. Consider an eCommerce brand that lists a black dress in sizes XS to 3X. A shopper who’s looking for dresses in size 1X filters by size and is shown the black dress in their results. When they click on it, they find that 1X is out of stock and it’s only available in sizes small, medium and large. They’re now skeptical of the accuracy of other search results and leave the site to look for other options. 

Purchase data shows that the black dress only sold in sizes small, medium and large, and the retailer restocks those sizes. They can’t see that the shopper filtered by size, tried to select the 1X or would have purchased the 1X if it had been available. In order to improve availability for their plus-size shoppers and optimize supply and demand, this retailer needs better visibility into purchase intent.  

How eCommerce Brands Can Outfit the Plus-Size Community  

Although the industry has a way to go, plus-size fashion is more accessible than ever, and a range of retailers now offer more inclusive sizing. Here are three tips that eCommerce brands can act on to gain the trust and loyalty of plus-size shoppers.

Make it Easy to Find Plus-Size Options

Retailers that use standard language, tags and collections make it easier for shoppers to find items in their sizes. Size should be accessible in navigation menus and filters. 

Use Intelligent Search

Websites should have a search function that supports natural language processing, so shoppers can get the results they’re looking for, even if their search terms don’t match the brand tags or are misspelled.

Personalize Suggestions

Ecommerce brands can use AI to personalize suggestions based on a shopper’s behavior. Consider the example with the black dress above. If the retailer had personalized suggestions, they could have surfaced other black dresses in size 1X for the shopper since their original selection was out of stock.

Meeting the Demand of Plus-Size Shoppers in eCommerce

Fast Simon’s analysis of mainstream online retailers shows that the industry isn’t meeting the demand of the women’s plus-size market. With the help of innovative technology like Fast Simon, eCommerce brands can better understand what their customers want and provide positive and inclusive shopping experiences. 

To optimize site search, merchandising, personalization, smart collections and visual discovery, schedule a Fast Simon demo.  

Zohar Gilad is the CEO and Co-Founder of Fast Simon, with extensive experience in eCommerce for the past decade. His articles have been published in Forbes, VentureBeat, Total Retail, Martech Series, Retail Touch Points, and more.