Many people now do at least a proportion of their shopping online and whilst online shopping is set to grow in the future there are problems for both consumers and retailers when it comes to clothes.
With sizing varying from brand to brand it is difficult to know which size to order and even if the item does prove to fit, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to suit the body shape of the purchaser.
As a consequence consumers often experience an unsuccessful outcome and retailers have to cope with a huge volume of returns.
This is an issue that is not going to go away and so now retailers are investing in new technologies which make choosing the right size much easier and which can even help decide whether an item suits the person concerned. Virtual changing rooms will probably soon be the norm as the shopping landscape changes forever.
Virtual Changing Rooms
Basic virtual changing rooms like those created by Fit.me allow the consumer to enter their measurements and then demonstrate how a chosen garment will fit them. Users can decide whether they prefer a tight or baggy fit and can see how the length of the piece will work on someone of their height. These systems should drastically reduce the number of unsuccessful purchases due to sizing errors but do not do not factor in skin tone or facial appearance. A different approach from Zugara uses webcam technology to allow shoppers to hold garments up against an image of themselves to assess how it will suit them but this is a basic approach simply overlaying images and may not be absolutely accurate as to how a garment will actually sit on the consumer.
Technology marches on though, and several systems are in development that create a personal avatar of the shopper which can try the clothes on for them. Retailers are in the early stages of development but it should soon be possible to create an avatar which is an accurate representation of a person’s stature, body shape, colouring and which can also be set in motion on screen. It sounds a little spooky when you think that there could be a virtual you experimenting with fashion choices but it will likely become the norm. Consumers will get used to the idea and relish the convenience of being able to test the water from the comfort of their own homes. Retailers, who have long ago accepted that online shopping will grow, can save fortunes in not having to deal with the massive amount of returns that currently flood back to them.
If a personal avatar to test your clothes sounds like a great innovation it must be considered that it will only really help if the clothes that will fit you perfectly are out there to discover. Life would be even easier if the garments were made specially to fit you in the first place and now moves in that direction are being made with the help of technology. Kyle McDonald and Lisa Kori Chung are developing a project called Open Fit Lab which uses a 3-D scanner to capture an image of the customer to create a pattern tailored to the individual. The pattern can then be projected onto cloth and the garment created. The duo envisage using the technology to create bespoke jeans in just one hour. The software’s capabilities could then be expanded to encompass any type of garment.
It won’t be long before all of those disappointing and time consuming trips to the shops and wasted explorations online to find a pair of jeans that fit will be over for good. You will be able to choose your jeans by creating an avatar to try them for you or even have a bespoke pair fashioned in minutes. The only remaining issue is the fact that you will not be able feel the garments online, there will be no sensory element to your shopping. I wonder how the retailers will get over that one
Sally Stacey is a keen online shopper who can’t wait to create her own personal avatar and reduce the number of disasterous choices she makes!