Despite the incredible convenience of online shopping, including saved time and efforts, wide ranges of products to be compared and purchased, provided discounts, and detailed product information, eCommerce has not yet completely replaced traditional trade.
One of the main reasons here is that customers have no physical access to products and can not touch, feel, and closely examine the items they buy. This drawback becomes even more significant in the case of digital fashion stores selling clothing, shoes, and accessories, where shoppers additionally need to make sure about the size and look. Note that, the average return rate for apparel stores is between 20-30%, which is much higher than the 10% rate for gifts, toys, and home products.
Online merchants clearly understand this disadvantage and try to bring online shopping experience closer to real life with the dedicated solutions, just like virtual dressing and fitting rooms or intelligent size prediction solutions.
How Does It Work
The whole process usually includes three separate stages: sizing customer’s body, sizing
clothing or footwear, and putting the items upon virtual video or animated models. Most
advanced fitting rooms even have data about fabric properties (stretching or color views from different angles) creating the models standing much closer to real life forms.
Simple fitting rooms just ask you to tell them about your most common sizes, including height, weight, body shape, waist circumference, chest girth, etc. While the solutions are able to take into account more parameters, you need to carefully measure your body and then send this data to the system.
The fitting room solutions that use digital cameras or scanners, simplify the sizing process for users, but require preliminary calibration. Fitting room booths use their own physical dimensions for this purpose, while web applications powered by digital cameras resort to the things of standard sizes, e.g.CD disks or something.
As for the sizes of apparel or footwear, they are provided by producers, but the main problem is that often the same specified sizes differ from each other considerably. In this case, it becomes helpful to use the services aggregating data from multiple brands that are able to normalize them to common measures.
Finally, the virtual try-on solutions use the provided above data and create realistic 3D models of users wearing their favorite clothing just in front of the camera with no need to undress each time they want to try a new look.
Body Measurement Solutions
As far as the idea of virtual fitting rooms and similar solutions appearing far back in 2005, now you can find a lot of measurement tools in the market, including digital measurement tapes or smart clothing.
For example, an innovative company from Israel Like a Glove offers its customers smart
leggings that measure bodies just in five seconds and send the obtained data to the dedicated app via bluetooth. The application allows tracking progress of weight loss and additionally is able to find jeans models across multiple brands that will suit you just perfectly.
The process of standardizing the sizes of multiple manufacturers is very difficult and work-intensive. However, some companies moved far along this way and now partner with thousands of global brands making perfect fits easily available for customers.
The True Fit Genome database, for example, includes 10000 apparel and footwear
brands, millions of styles, more than 100 product attributes, multiple demographic and body
stats, and preferences. This makes it one of the biggest fit and style data sets in the world.
Virtual Fitting Rooms
The idea of virtual fitting (dressing, changing rooms depending on a particular goal) appeared with the very advent of online fashion stores. Evidently, detailed product descriptions and high-ratio images are not able to provide customers with the unbeatable confidence about their choice.
Since it has appeared, the idea of virtual fitting rooms has come a long way of improvements and now may pretend to become a real ‘holy grail’ for online merchants. The latest generation of fitting rooms exploit the augmented reality tools, building virtual models of customers wearing particular garments in the real time mode. This technology is beneficial for both physical and online stores, which allows customers to try cloths without a need to undress.
Virtual fitting rooms can be made as fitting booths, virtual mirrors, or virtual fitting applications powered by digital cameras. Applications are usually made for in-home use and allow customers to comfortably and confidently purchase clothing and footwear online.
Virtual fitting booths are usually equipped with 3D body scanners and provide perhaps the most accurate customer body parameters. The booths, the same as virtual mirrors, are used in physical stores and allow customers to easily change multiple styles, including clothing, shoes, and accessories, while store owners are able to save additional space for exhibiting new collections.
Gap Dressing Room App
A few month ago Gap announced its new DressingRoom application, which enables customers to find out how clothing may look at their homes, work, gyms – anywhere they like. It’s definitely quite a unique opportunity that makes it possible to look at you from the ‘other side’ and consider your style in the eyes of other people.
Based in Los Angeles, the augmented reality company Zugara produces virtual dressing rooms for different retail channels, including in-store retail, kiosks, and web.
The Webcam Social Shopper application allows customers to use their web cameras as magic mirrors and virtually try on different items. The provider promises easy integration with different platforms, customizable appearance suitable for any web store, multiple social features, and detailed analytics.
The in-store and kiosk solutions can be easily launched in any store with minimal calibration to the physical environment. The provided backend interface allows scanning item barcodes or add products to the system manually. As a result, the customers using virtual dressing rooms and applications convert two or three times better.
Augmented Reality in Other Business Areas
Augmented reality is used not only by apparel and footwear merchants, but also by many other omni-channel retailers.
For example, just recently Ikea, the Swedish furniture brand, announced “Ikea Place” – an augmented reality application that allows users to virtually furnish their homes with different pieces of furniture. According to Ikea, the app is able to automatically scale products based on room dimensions with the incredible 98% accuracy.
So, as mentioned above, virtual dressing rooms and augmented reality applications are able to considerably improve shopping experience and therefore conversions.
Store visitors are able to share their looks across multiple social media and, this way, provide a significant word-of-mouth effect.
The provided analytics allows merchants to understand the common body parameters of their visitors/users better and bring the provided product collections closer to customer needs.
This post was written for Atwix blog by Dmitry Shatkov, Chief Content Officer, Aheadworks