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Up Close and Intimate With Amazon: Report Says Retailer 3-D Body Scanning Volunteers

If there’s one company that could really push 3-D body scanning into the mainstream, it would be Amazon.

The e-commerce giant is rumored to be putting its 2017 Body Labs acquisition to good use, soliciting volunteers, via an online survey, who can travel to New York City to undergo twice-monthly 3-D body scans to track changes to their figures over time, The Wall Street Journal reported. Participants reportedly will be compensated with Amazon gift cards of up to $250 in value.

It’s been around for years but 3-D body scanning has yet to fully catch on, though interest in the technology is gathering steam, especially as consumer interest in personalized and customized clothing grows. A company as influential as Amazon investing in 3-D body scanning could spur widespread adoption among apparel retailers aiming to secure or maintain market share amid evolving consumer preferences.

Besides enabling consumers to order apparel tailored specifically to their unique physiques, 3-D body scanning could also help companies create clothing that better matches real customers’ bodies, which in turn could aid shoppers in finding the best fits. Companies like Human Solutions look to mass-scale sizing surveys such as its Size NorthAmerica project, which is scanning tens of thousands of consumers continent-wide to bring sizing data up to date so brands don’t create apparel products based on outmoded fit data.

For e-commerce retailers like Amazon in particular, a better understanding of customers’ bodies and clothing fits could help trim the rate of returns, which often run as high as 40 percent and significantly erode profit margins. It’s now routine for shoppers to order items in multiple sizes in the hopes of finding the one that suits them best and then to ship the remainder back—often at the retailer’s expense. E-tailers use free two-way shipping to encourage consumers to shop without worrying about added delivery fees.

As Amazon gets serious about dominating the apparel space, it could use 3-D body scanning to gain a leg up over competitors like Walmart, over which it’s expected to take the lead as the No. 1 retailer of apparel this year, according to Morgan Stanley.