We’ve all done it: ordered a few sizes or styles of shoes/pants/dresses/etc. from an online retailer with the intention of sending back whatever doesn’t fit. Relaxed return policies and the expectation of free shipping and returns are promoting this type of behavior, and while “free returns” do drive customer loyalty, the trend is leaving e-retailers with billions of dollars of inventory coming back that must be accounted for.

This send-it-back sentiment is particularly a burden for online apparel retailers, as web sales of apparel boast one of the highest return rates around — one in three items are returned.

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