How to build a return policy for intimates & bathing suit brands.

Swimwear and intimates brands are presented with a ton of unique challenges when building a return policy. Here's what you need to know.

How to build a return policy for bathing suit brands

Most swimwear and intimates brands come to the same impasse when it comes to their return policies: how do you maintain hygiene standards for your products, while also offering customers the flexibility they have come to expect?

In this post we show you how to strike this balance with actionable tips and examples.

Provide clear guidelines around hygiene

Hygiene should be the number one priority of swimwear and intimates brands. Not only for the sake of the business but also for the safety of your customers. If you don’t surface any hygiene practices in your policy, you not only put the health of your customers at risk but also leave them wondering whether cleanliness is a priority for your brand. If a customer is left wondering about that answer your conversions will suffer.

There are a few ways to make your brand’s expectations around hygiene clear in your return policy:

Be explicit about hygiene standards. Your return policy needs to clearly state your brand’s standards when it comes to hygiene. In other words, what condition does the swimwear or intimates product need to be in to be eligible for exchanges or returns? Summersalt makes it clear in the example below that only swimsuits with original tags and hygienic liners still in place will be accepted for returns or exchanges. This type of explicit language will minimize confusion and put the minds of customers at ease, knowing that your brand takes issues of health and safety seriously.

Example copy for bathing suit return policy

Outline sanitary best practices for the customer. To encourage customers to practice good hygiene, you can add sanitary best practices to your policy. This can include recommendations such as keeping your own underwear on while trying on swimsuits. Or taking a shower before and after trying on an item. While there’s no guarantee that customers will follow these guidelines, making them visible in your policy at least increases their chances of doing so.

Create a bucketed return policy

Your swimwear or intimates brand likely sells more than one category of item. If this is the case, create a bucketed policy that’s customized to each of those categories. Why? Every type of product has a different fit experience, and your return policy should reflect those nuances. A bra, for example, is much more difficult to fit than a pair of underwear. And while it would be nice to have a one-size-fits-all policy, it simply isn’t realistic and doesn’t serve the customer at the end of the day.

Knix is a great example of a swimwear and intimates brand that has created an easy-to-understand and bucketed return policy for each of its products.

Example intimate return policy (bucketed)

Here are a few considerations for the most common categories of swimwear and intimates:

Bras. Bras are one of the more complicated categories of products to fit because they require two sets of measurements: one for the cup and one for the band. Given this, there’s more room for error. That’s why we encourage brands to offer free, flexible exchanges on bras. If the difference between a customer loving your product and just feeling so-so about it is the ability to easily exchange their item, then it’s worth covering the cost of shipping to make that happen.

Swimwear. Since a bathing suit is something people wear in public, customers will likely have higher expectations for this product and want it to fit perfectly. This is why most brands are flexible around returns for swimwear. If you’re concerned about receiving too many returns, it may be helpful to remember that swimsuits are seasonal. In other words, if someone takes the time to purchase a bathing suit from you, it’s likely they’ll opt for an exchange over a return so they can get the most use out of their swimsuit while it’s still in season.

Underwear. Policies around underwear vary widely. Many brands consider all underwear purchases ‘final sale’ and don’t offer any types of returns or exchanges, while others offer no-questions-asked policies. The best solution really depends on what percentage of your sales underwear makes up. If underwear accounts for a small amount of your total sales feel free to make these items final sale. If underwear is your number one selling item you need to build returns and exchanges into your strategy. Book some time with Loop and we can help with strategy.

Build in moments that customers will love

While you have to be firm about certain aspects of your policy for hygienic purposes, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to build in moments that delight and strengthen their loyalty to your brand. Here are a few ideas to consider to create a return policy your customers will love:

Give a free exchange on the first purchase. If you don’t generally allow exchanges and returns on underwear, consider offering a “freebie'' on the customer’s first purchase. If they don’t love the first bra or underwear they buy from you, let them keep it and offer a free, one-time exchange. Instead of writing this off as a sunk cost, view it as an acquisition cost. A free pair of underwear buys you a loyal customer who is likely to make many more purchases from you in the future. Plus, you gain valuable data by learning exactly what didn’t work for the customer the first time around.

Offer complimentary “personal fit” consultations. If you want to add a truly special and personal touch to your exchange process, offer a complimentary fit consultation for anyone who requests an exchange. This ensures the customer receives exactly the right product the second time around and gives your brand a great opportunity to collect some more feedback.

virtual fitting session for intimates return policy

Create a return policy that keeps your customers healthy and happy

Even though the swimwear and intimates industries present unique challenges around returns and exchanges, there are ways to address them that benefit both the customer and your business. Apply the recommendations we shared above for happy customers who trust and love your brand. 

Want to make returns and exchanges easy for your swimwear and intimates brand? Get in touch with our team, we can help you build a policy and process your customers will love.