Success Story is a Sourcing Journal feature highlighting innovative solutions across all areas of the apparel and footwear supply chain.
Personalization has been a catch-all buzzword to describe many retail experiences in recent years, but if apparel brands apply it to answer common questions like “Will these pants fit me?” then the technology could pay real dividends.
Workwear and streetwear apparel brand Dickies has leveraged personalization to its advantage, implementing 3DLook’s YourFit size and fit recommendations in its storefront on Alibaba Group’s Tmall marketplace.
3DLook’s technology needs just two full-body photos from a mobile phone—a front view and a side view—to identify more than 80 measurement points. The technology uses a patented combination of computer vision and 3D statistical modeling and compares the results with product data to determine the best size and fit for each customer’s body.
Since first rolling out the solution in May 2021, Dickies has driven a 94 percent increase in conversions and a 211 percent boost in unique visitors, while also improving satisfaction rates and its Net Promoter Score (NPS).
The 3DLook implementation on Tmall was the first of its kind for any VF Corporation brand. As such, the Tmall Innovation Center named the fashion giant an “Innovation Champion” last year, marking the first apparel and footwear business to receive the honor. Alongside Dickies, VF Corporation’s portfolio includes Vans, The North Face, Timberland and Supreme.
“A few years ago, VF Corporation embarked on a journey to digitize its brands’ product creation and go-to-market processes,” said Adela Tan, vice president and managing director, Dickies (VF Asia Pacific). “The pandemic only accelerated our need to use digital technologies to become more agile and responsive to consumers’ demands and fit recommendation was one of the top opportunities we identified.”
The workwear brand used 3DLook’s solution to cater to China’s young, digitally savvy Gen Z shoppers, who make up the majority of Tmall’s active consumers.
According to Tan, the Dickies team sought to “better understand their appetite for such functionality, so we can incorporate the learnings and scale our efforts across multiple brands and regions.”
With 3DLook, Dickies said it also reduced its customers’ reliance on support staff and improved the efficiency of the purchasing process, since 50 percent of all support questions received are related to size.
Whitney Cathcart, co-founder and chief strategy officer at 3DLook, noted that the brand saw the potential to reduce pressure on customer service reps as one of the main drivers for the partnership. With the pilot launch, Dickies could recreate a better version of the often inconvenient, lengthy in-store fitting experience.
“Fit and sizing are some of the biggest questions that customer service gets,” Cathcart told Sourcing Journal. “And if you can’t get ahold of somebody in customer service, particularly in the U.S. here, where it seems harder to actually get a human being on the phone, it becomes a big source of friction. It’s thinking about how do we take that experience that we had in store—where we would go in and a store associate was available to answer questions, or we can take two or three different sizes off the rack and go into the fitting room—and make it more personalized and engaging.”
According to market research conducted by consulting firm Bain & Company on behalf of Dickies, 87 percent of 300 customers surveyed report the 3DLook tool has improved the shopping experience and would like to see the size and fit recommendations offered on more products.
The study also found that 94 percent of surveyed consumers rate sizing as the key barrier to purchasing garments online, confirming the opportunity for solutions that can remotely measure online customers and match them with the best-fitting garments.
Overall, the independent research concluded that the tool had made a positive impact on Dickies brand image and was perceived to be strong in delivering a young and innovative image and sense of style.
To use the solution, shoppers on Dickies Tmall store select a product and click on the measurement widget, which prompts a voice assistant to guide them through the quick photo flow.
From there, the YourFit feature offers photorealistic virtual try-on functionalities combined with data-driven size recommendations, enabling customers to model virtual garments on a 3D avatar based on the body measurements.
The pilot differed from 3DLook’s traditional partnerships as well, with Cathcart noting that the tech provider’s go-to-market strategy is traditionally focused on U.S.-based brands. But Cathcart’s own career experiences in China led her to realize that Chinese consumers are ahead of their global peers, including those in the U.S., making 3D technology an obvious benefit in the market.
“It was really interesting to see the data that we had gotten back from our report with Dickies, because it showed me that we were absolutely on the right path here because the Chinese consumer tends to be so digitally advanced,” Cathcart said. “It was kind of another validation point that fit is a real problem for consumers everywhere, whether you’re male, whether you’re female, and it doesn’t really matter the demographic or where you’re purchasing.”
In a January earnings call, VF Corp. CEO, president and chairman Steve Rendle said that an important part of the company’s go-forward strategy in China is “speaking to the Chinese consumer as a Chinese consumer and elevating our local-for-local product creation, demand creation and really tailoring events that are relevant to them and their needs.”
Although Dickies remains the only VF Corp. brand that has integrated the 3DLook experience in Tmall, don’t rule out the others. Now that the label has paved the way, any other VF brand interested in activating the size recommendation engine on the Chinese e-commerce platform will be able to do so.