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How This EU-Funded Startup Wants to Eliminate Online Apparel Returns

An EU-funded startup wants to solve the problem of choosing the right size when shopping for clothes online.

iSizeYou, a mobile app for Android and iOS that’s still in beta, is using consumers’ smartphones to target the wholly unsustainable problem of online apparel returns, which were estimated to run as high as 40 percent and cost European e-commerce retailers 400 million euro ($492 million) in 2016. Because they can’t try before they buy like they can in a brick-and-mortar store, online shoppers often purchase an item in multiple sizes and take advantage of liberal return policies to send back products that don’t fit. Retailers end up eating the costs for the sake of keeping the customer.

In essence, iSizeYou envisions consumers using its app to capture body measurements and use the resulting data to find the best size recommendations with participating online retailers such as launch partner Piacenza Cashmere. It’s a similar approach to True Fit’s integration across myriad e-tailers. But for now, the app has some kinks to work out. In their app profile, users are prompted to enter their height and weight, secure hair away from their neck and shoulders and wear dark, close-fitting clothing from head to toe (with shoes removed). iSizeYou recommends against using a smartphone camera’s self timer, which can lead to inaccurate results, so users must enlist a bystander to snap the two, full-body photos captured from behind and of their side profile, from which the app generates its measurements and sizing recommendations.

iSizeYou largely was born out of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, from which it received 70 percent of its 1 million euro ($1.2 million) funding, and aims for privacy by not capturing the individual’s face or storing the photos on a corporate server, said researcher José Antonio Tornero, according to Valencia Plaza.

Researchers from the Terrassa campus of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the Technological University of Munich, the Metal Technological Institute of Valencia (Aidimme), iDeal and Holonix in the corporate sector and Piacenza Cashmere came together to create iSizeYou, which officially launched in January following initial development activities in January 2017.