Ecommerce growing popularity has not been an easy path for business, for one, the high returns rate is still cutting significantly in their profits. Could the emerging technologies for virtual fitting rooms help fashion retailers to reduce these losses?
The trend of retail shifting from physical stores to virtual ones is definitely poised to continue; according to Statista.com between 2015 and 2021, the ecommerce share of total retail sales is going to double from 7.4% to 15.5%. It is a change driven by consumers, but for retailers and brands alike it has disrupted decades-old business practices and reduced profit margins. One of the main culprits of decreasing retail profits margins online is the high rate of returns, which accompanied by the increasingly expected "free shipping / free returns" policy, is significantly cutting into ecommerce profitability. This is especially true for the apparel industry, where the returns rate can be as high as 30%.
The online fashion shopping experience has been missing a crucial part of the customer decision-making process: the fitting. Some online stores like ASOS, offer the option to enter personal measurements to evaluate better size, but several startups are betting that a virtual fitting room can help fashion retailers to reduce these losses. To replicate the infinite combinations of body shapes and garments tailoring is definitely not an easy task, that's why we had to wait for the computational power to grow to support virtual fitting rooms. Metail, a UK startup, has been perfecting its "memodel " experience since 2008. The process involves not only creating a personal avatar, thus accommodating a multitude of body variations, but also photographing clothes is such a way that can be fit on all these different models. TriMirror.com offers a similar customer experience: the avatar is quickly built using a basic personal information (height, weight, bust, body shape), but in addition, this virtual alter ego can switch to different poses and settings, including the tension view that indicates were fitting is tight. Fitle takes the total personalization approach. There is no need to enter measurements, the mobile app transforms the smartphone in a 3D body scanner and builds the avatar that will accompany the customer through her online shopping adventures. The app says the process take 30 seconds, yes if you are dressed for the task (tight clothes) and have the right set up, that is a mini photo studio, only then the smartphone app will be able to scan the body.
Overall, these technologies are very close to be enjoyable for shoppers, it's definitely time that online retailers start to consider them.