As consumers across the country remain, for the most part, at home, tech solutions are making shopping from afar easier and more convenient.
AI-enabled retail technology company 3DLook, which aims to solve the industry’s most troublesome fit and return problems, launched a new solution for custom and made-to-measure businesses on Tuesday.
The Mobile Tailor tool allows brands and retailers that create custom apparel to remotely receive precise body measurements from their customers. The solution generates around 70 points of measurement using just two smartphone photos from the shopper—with no measuring tape required.
In under 45 seconds, Mobile Tailor analyzes the front and side-view photos, creating measurement data that can be accessed through a business’ personal workspace. Brands that happen to be using 3D fashion design software can receive the shopper data as a 3D body avatar, too.
“We generate a 3D model, and once we have it we can statistically compute hundreds of measurements if we want,” said Whitney Cathcart, 3DLook co-founder and chief strategy officer.
A year ago, Mobile Tailor had about 24 points of measurement, and now its capabilities have nearly tripled, she said. That’s because businesses are looking for nuanced data to optimize fit.
A shopper’s natural waist might have a different measurement from the highest point on their hip, even if just by a fraction. But having access to more data leads to better-fitting products, she said.
“The world isn’t moving toward standardization,” Cathcart said. “The future of fashion is moving toward, ‘What’s your size?’ It’s all around customization.”
More and more brands are also moving online, which means that shopping remotely will become the norm. “COVID has just acted as an accelerant to something that was already going to happen,” she said.
As apparel shopping happens increasingly on the web, brands must get smarter about ensuring fit. Otherwise, she said, they will remain mired in the constant cycle of returns, incurring increased shipping costs and adding to their carbon footprints.
“As we move online, if we don’t solve fit problems, return rates continue to go up, which cause inflated inventories,” she said. If those products don’t get sold off in margin-busting liquidations, they end up in landfills. “The whole business model is totally unsustainable,” she added.
The Mobile Tailor solution was born of a desire to help small businesses and startups, Cathcart said, that lacked a way to access measurement data in the wake of the retail lockdowns.
“What we saw at the beginning of COVID was a huge amount of interest from early-stage, made-to-measure companies who had started businesses a year or two ago,” she said. “We also saw mom-and-pop shops spread across the U.S. with a great customer base, who didn’t have online stores.”
Though their companies were at different life stages and had varying objectives for growth, they were all looking for a solution for contactless measurement. “They can’t physically touch their customers to make a product,” she said, and that was holding up business.
The Mobile Tailor tool is a lighter version of 3DLook’s enterprise software, though the core technology remains the same. But it works as a standalone solution for companies that aren’t fully connected to other retail technology platforms, Cathcart said.
A brick-and-mortar business need only send a link with a Mobile Tailor widget to its customer, and once shoppers takes their photos, the measurements arrive in the business-owner’s inbox. Retailers can also embed the widget on their website, if they have one.
“Whether you’re a billion-dollar enterprise company or a startup, everyone is trying to figure out how we make less, better,” Cathcart said, adding that the fast-fashion mentality that dominated the 2000s has taken a precipitous fall in recent years.
“You have a consumer who is willing to wait to have something made just for them, and we seek to enable that behavior,” she said.