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Virtual Fitting Room Tech CEO: ‘Don’t Pay Us’ If Returns Don’t Drop 33%

One online plus-size women’s apparel brand believes fit technology is the key to driving customer engagement and ultimately increasing conversion and reducing returns. To Act Brand, which sells dresses, jumpsuits, pants, tops, skirts and blazers between sizes 42-54, has integrated virtual and augmented reality-powered fitting room solution Perfitly into its e-commerce experience.

To Act Brand, which operates out of the U.K. and Germany, kicked off the soft launch of the platform on June 1, according to Perfitly CEO and co-founder Dave Sharma. With the trial, the merchant was the first plus-size brand to deploy the virtual fitting room technology.

Perfitly’s solutions are built to help consumers find their best fit when shopping on To Act Brand’s website. Once on the homepage, customers can create a digital avatar of themselves by either submitting two photos of their front and side profile, or entering individual measurements and answering a brief questionnaire.

The technology provider says it can create the avatar at more than 97 percent accuracy, and can “e-stitch” a garment at an even higher 99 percent accuracy rate based on digital assets the brand sends through to Perfitly. Taking the garment data, including grading and sizing, the digital SKU can account for fabric properties, including density, weight, stiffness, stretch and friction. Sharma said these data points enable the “e-garment” to display drapes, stretches and folds, all of which typically aren’t communicated online.

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“We reproduce what you give us faithfully,” Sharma told Sourcing Journal. “We will not infuse our own ideas, or our own design logic. We faithfully reproduce, and this could be whether you are LV, Gucci, Gap or Boot Barn.”

Complementing the avatars, To Act Brand also incorporates Perfitly size recommendations and visualizations into its e-commerce channel. When shoppers click the “Try it on” button on any fashion piece in To Act Brand’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection, they can see and interact with their avatar wearing the Perfitly recommended size. Within the feature, shoppers can then personalize their 3D avatar by sizing up and down, zooming in and out or rotating the avatar 360 degrees.

“Working with Perfitly has enabled our brand to offer shoppers beautiful plus-size clothing through an interactive shopping experience that mimics brick-and-mortar stores,” Anna-Carlotta Theis, CEO and co-founder of To Act Brand, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to delighting our shoppers with a fun way to engage with our collections, while seeing higher conversion rates and reduced returns due to the virtual fitting room technology we now have access to. Additionally, we’re proud to now offer a solution to shoppers that will also increase our sustainability efforts in the fashion industry.”

On average, return rates at brands prior to deploying Perfitly were 28 percent. But Sharma claims this rate plummets to 10 percent after testing with the platform—a 64 percent improvement. Such a drop would be significant across the fashion sector. Across all sales channels, apparel had the second-highest return rates in retail after auto parts, at 12.2 percent in 2021, according to a report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and returns management software Appriss Retail.

“We say if you don’t reduce returns by one-third, don’t pay us,” Sharma said. “If we don’t increase your conversion by 30 percent, don’t pay us.”

By reducing returns, merchants like To Act Brand put themselves in a better position to prioritize sustainable practices.

“If you can reduce returns, then the dead inventory feeding the return cycle will decrease,” Sharma said. “When you reduce that inventory by 10 percent, you produce 10 percent less. What you’ll find is the resources needed across the supply chain will decrease in kind—10 percent less cotton, 10 percent less insecticide, 10 percent less transportation, 10 percent less manufacturing, 10 percent fewer zippers and buttons, or dyes and chemicals used in the process.”

Perfitly’s partnership with To Act Brand also comes as apparel labels seem to struggle with incorporating size inclusivity without it backfiring. For example, mere months after Old Navy integrated all sizes under the same pricing structure, the retailer scaled back its Bodequality push due to an imbalance in demand and a shortage in medium sizes.

Sharma and his team believe their virtual solution can mitigate the current issues that plagued Old Navy by generating more data to determine the amount of SKUs brands need to manufacture and order in each size. This ideally would help a retailer like To Act Brand not just avoid returns but also streamline inventory movement.

Perfitly currently is in advanced A/B deployment with seven brands in total, Sharma said, indicating that they are “on average, half the size of Target,” with one being larger.

The company says it will continue to expand its business globally by working with retailers of all sizes. In particular, Sharma expects the expansion efforts to flourish in the next few months, particularly in Europe, where adoption of the technology has outpaced the U.S.

Additionally, Perfitly expects to see an influx of traffic to its core business and metaverse applications throughout 2022, with upcoming releases on its roadmap including suggested selling, avatars that include custom poses, as well as curated personal styles based on prior purchases.