Technology has enabled great transformation in the world of retail, with eCommerce taking an increasing percentage of sales in nearly all categories. Perhaps the greatest transformation is occurring in the fashion industry, where technology is revolutionizing every step of this $3 trillion industry. Design, manufacturing, distribution, and merchandising are being rapidly transformed by the innovators in the industry. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), as well as robotics, are all enabling a radically different approach to the apparel industry.
Online shopping for apparel, with its high return rate and cart abandonment, is in the cross-hairs of emerging technology solutions. At GrandCanals, we know that shoppers are very particular about fit and appearance. The challenge is to provide a satisfying customer experience and eliminate the current inefficiencies of online apparel shopping.
There are an increasing number of companies that have attempted to tackle the fit challenge with a range of technology-based solutions, with the goal to simulate the physical fit and sizing experience. These solutions are data driven and require accurate, relevant information both from the retailer and the customer. The challenge is to enable obtaining this information in way that is both accurate and a good customer experience.
Gap’s DressingRoom app uses AR to help online or mobile shoppers “try on” clothing through a smartphone app to see how clothes will fit before they order them. Gap, on their blog describes how it works: “Shoppers choose a Gap style that they might be interested in purchasing. Next, they select one of five body types featured in the app so they can “try on” the piece of clothing from anywhere on a Google Tango-enabled device, and if they love it, they can buy it online.”
Sweden-based Virtusize provides a lower tech solution where consumers compare a proposed purchase to a previously purchased item to determine proper fit. Alternatively, several key measurements of the garment with proper fit can be provided and Virtusize compares to the proposed purchase.
Metail is a British company developing online fitting room technology, which enables consumers to create a Personalized 3D model of themselves. The technology aims to increase consumer confidence in buying clothing online through an engaging and delightful product. Metail’s technology can be incorporated into any e-commerce platform. After entering a few simple measurements consumers can generate a MeModel, which is 94-96% accurate to their specific size.
Rakuten’s Fits.me develops, markets and operates virtual fitting room solutions on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis for online clothing retailers. This helps them overcome the problems of low online conversion rates and high garment returns rates caused by doubt over fit and poor fit respectively. Through its three modules, Fit Origin, Fashion IQ, and Fit Match. Fits.me enables online shoppers to provide their measurements, body shape and fit preferences, and find products that match their size and preferences. Through Fashion IQ, the retailer can gain valuable insight to their customers’ preferences.
In addition to personalized fit, some solutions tout fashion discovery and even personalized design among their capabilities. With over 56 million registered users, True Fit is an AI-powered platform that facilitates fashion discovery and exact-fit clothing and shoe recommendations. The heart of True Fit’s capability is the True Fit Genome TM which is the largest set of connected fit and style data in the world. In collaboration with the world’s leading retailers and brands such as Macy’s, Hudson Bay, Lord & Taylor, Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Cole Haan, and Kate Spade, True Fit has “mapped the relationship between rich garment attributes and rich consumer preferences to find the convergence of personal style preferences, fit and size”.
True Fit also provides a dashboard of insights to partnering retailers and brands, which leverage these insights to accelerate personalization and growth.
In a bit of a different twist, Mode.ai is an AI-powered fashion chatbot. The company’s mission is to make shopping a visual, conversational and personalized experience. Its team consists of experts in the fields of computer vision, AI, and other engineering disciplines, together with strong business leaders.
Of course, no story about eCommerce would be complete without a word about what Amazon is doing. It is no secret that Amazon has entered the apparel industry with an aggressive vertical integration strategy. Amazon is using technology from their 2017 acquisition of Body Labs to address the challenge of accurate fit.
Retailing and merchandising are but one aspect of the apparel industry but by no means the only aspect being transformed by technology. While today there are ways to find apparel in a preferred style and the right size and fit, tomorrow promises to provide shoppers with personalized designs as well as fit, all based on what has been gleaned from your shopping preferences and profile.