Retailers are gradually catching on to the potential for providing virtual try-on experiences in the e-commerce environment to improve consumer confidence and reduce returns. But there is also a case to be made for using this technology to remove the friction of fitting rooms from the brick-and-mortar shopping journey.
Technology company 3DLook’s augmented reality (AR) solution allows consumers to see how a garment will fit by trying it on a 3D avatar personalized with their measurements. Per 3DLook, 61 percent of consumers prefer to shop with a store that has an AR experience in place, and adding this component can boost conversions by 83 percent.
The company is looking to bring these same benefits to physical retail later this year with a few major in-store pilots, as its technology can be used to power touchpoints such as sales associate tablets and consumer-facing virtual try-on mirrors. Ultimately, the goal is to optimize the consumer experience and create consistency across the brand, both online and off.
“When you offer something to e-commerce companies which also have physical retail locations, you have to understand that consumers more and more shop across different channels, and if you interact with them only online, you don’t bring the full value to a consumer and to a business accordingly, and vice versa,” said Vadim Rogovskiy, 3DLook’s CEO and co-founder.
Sourcing Journal spoke to Rogovskiy about why the fitting room might go out of style and how virtual try-ons can impact the customer experience.
SJ: What are some of the challenges retailers face when it comes to fitting rooms?
VR: A lot of brick-and-mortar retailers have been facing many problems recently, and one of the changes that they’ve already started to make is to shrink their physical stores and to have less square footage per store. It means that they’ll obviously have less space for fitting rooms, and thus that they will have to offer other options for consumers to try different garments on and choose the best size and fit. And from a consumer’s perspective, it’s quite a long and exhausting process, and busy consumers are often faced with long lines and cramped spaces to try on clothes. So both retailers and consumers definitely need a totally different way to solve this problem, and here we come to the rescue.
SJ: How can a solution such as 3DLook’s technology help to overcome some of these frustrations?
VR: Retailers who have integrated our web widget, part of our Body Data Platform, can easily give their store associates access through their mobile devices or iPads. Then store associates can then use their devices to snap two photos of every consumer who walks into a store and instantly recommend clothing that best fits her unique body dimensions. Also, if a retailer already has digitized some SKUs in 3D, then consumers can also see how every garment fits their bodies in 3D or in augmented reality. So as a result, consumers save a lot of time and don’t even have to use a fitting room, and retailers not only increase their topline revenue and elevate consumer experience on a totally new level, but also have the data available in real-time to impact the bottom line as well, for example, design and product development decisions to correct the misalignment between grading systems and their actual customers. This efficiency reduces waste in the supply chain and returns on the consumer side, and also allows retailers to build hyper personalized recommendations.
SJ: Why is offering consumers the ability to try clothes on so important to customer satisfaction and conversions?
VR: Replicating the experience of trying on physical goods in a digital environment is a very hard problem to solve. The product that we have built enables the consumer to better understand how a specific garment is going to fit her unique body shape. In other words, addressing the preference piece of how each one of us likes to wear our clothes. At 3DLook, we understand this complex piece of fashion and our goal from day one was to build an experience for the consumer that would give her the data and visual experience to make the best choice relative to her preference.
SJ: If a company wants to integrate 3DLook into its in-store experience, what would the process look like?
VR: A brand would need to choose whether it wants to implement our solution into its e-commerce website or a mobile app for store associates. Our consumer-facing widget is already integrated with our Body Data Platform, and our body data dashboard aggregates the body measurement and shape data of their customers and segments this data to deliver powerful insights for design, manufacturing, planning and marketing teams.
SJ: How will technologies like yours change how retailers plan and allocate inventory for their stores?
VR: Simply speaking, fashion brands have been making clothing for bodies without having any idea of what those bodies actually look like. And as online shopping has increased over the last five years, the implications of making clothes that don’t fit these bodies have caused returns and inventories to spiral, resulting in stunning disruption to retail and its supply chain. Our body data platform solves this problem. In a world where brands and retailers now have no choice other than to go digital if they want to compete, the era of relying on historical size surveys and approximate segmentation is over.
SJ: Moving further upstream, how can virtual try-ons influence product development and assortments?
VR: 3D scans of individual customers are a critical part of a digital design and manufacturing supply chain. They enable brands and manufacturers using 3D fashion design software to both validate that products fit all the different shapes for a particular size as well as customize products to the consumer. The implications on the consumer-facing side in terms of engagement and data are enormous. Imagine consumers dressing their avatars in a similar way that we used to dress paper dolls, but now that experience is customized to us and available in 3D and AR. Virtual dressing will create massive opportunities to build brand new business models and have a huge impact on the growth of digital commerce and digital goods.