The more shoppers are demanding that contactless technology becomes a major part of the in-store experience in the COVID-19 era, the more retailers and solution providers are pushing to envelope to assist in those demands.
AI-based fit technology provider Bold Metrics has introduced Contactless Fit, a solution designed for apparel brands to connect customers to clothes that fit them best according to individual body shape and size, without the need to try on any actual clothing.
Shoppers can use Contactless Fit either in the store or at home, with the solution accounting for individual fit and style preferences in an effort to deliver a more personalized retail experience. Using the app on tablet or on their phone, shoppers can answer a quiz of four to six questions to give the platform the information required to conduct a measurement.
From there, the Bold Metrics technology leverages machine learning algorithms powered by eight years of shopper fit data to predict a customer’s best size.
The technology is designed to be integrated with existing point-of-sale (POS) solutions or iPads on the store floor, but Bold Metrics also has developed it own standalone POS so stores can provide Contactless Fit to shoppers when they reopen.
“At Bold Metrics, we’ve been focused on helping shoppers find their best fit through online shopping experiences where consumer access to the information regarding the size of a particular style is often limited,” said Daina Burnes, CEO of Bold Metrics. “Now, we’ve seen demand for our technology in-store, to help retailers provide their customers with a seamless experience around finding their fit and sizing without access to a fitting room.”
The idea of shopping for apparel in a store appears has met with a lukewarm reception from consumers, with 54 percent saying they are ready to buy clothing in a brick-and-mortar setting upon reopening, according to a survey from First Insight. However, the try-on experience and the interaction with store employees evokes decidedly strong emotions. As many as 65 percent of women and 54 percent of men say they will not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms, while 66 percent of women and 54 of men would not feel safe working with a sales associate.
As they reopen, apparel retailers are approaching fitting rooms differently. Gap Inc. is one retailer temporarily closing fitting rooms as it begins reopening stores, while Nordstrom is among the many retailers modifying them to reduce density and maintain social distancing.
Macy’s, upon reopening, will only keep a select few fitting rooms open at a given time. They will be sanitized frequently, and employees will hold items that have been tried on for 24 hours before putting them back on the sales floor. European retailer Mango, which is working to open 1,700 stores up by June 2, will open fitting rooms upon request, follow limited capacity restrictions and clean them after use.
Contactless extends to payments, kiosks and lockers
Contactless isn’t just a demand in the fitting room. The concept already had slowly gained adoption in the payments world prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now more apparel and footwear retailers including Tailored Brands and Clarks are offering contactless payment as their stores reopen.
Seventy-nine percent of global shoppers say they have used contactless “tap to pay” payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers, according to a study from Mastercard of 17,000 consumers across 19 countries. As many as 82 percent of these shoppers view contactless, touch-free payment experiences as a “cleaner” way to pay at checkout.
The observed usage of the technology backs up the popularity, with the credit card giant reporting a 40 percent jump in contactless payments during the first quarter as the global pandemic worsened. When looking into the future, 74 percent of shoppers state they will continue to use contactless payments post-pandemic, so there’s likely some staying power in the investment.
Overall, 56 percent of shoppers say they are happier to use contactless cards than they were last year, according to a Paysafe study of 8,000 global consumers.
There’s also another contactless concept―unattended retail―which includes in-store kiosks, lockers or even vending machines as ways shoppers can access products without having to interact with another human.
According to a joint study from PYMNTS and USA Technologies of 2,300 shoppers, 35 percent of millennials and 29 percent of Gen Z shoppers said they’d be willing to spend more at these unorthodox shopping channels if non-traditional products were offered.
But these numbers significantly rose when apparel was in the fold. Sixty-one percent of millennials and 59 percent of Gen Z respondents said they would be willing to buy clothing and accessories through those channels, and 54 percent of Gen X and 45 percent of seniors and baby boomers agreed.