Personalization and relevance are continuing to gain ground in the 2019 retail wars.
As companies like Levi’s launch proprietary design tools for customization, other companies are helping existing brands find their own form of relevance in the marketplace.
True Fit expands apparel and footwear retailers’ understanding of fit beyond sizing. The tool draws heavily on customer insights to synthesize style preferences, specific measurements and returns data, and provide consumers with more information to make better decisions. And the happier consumers are with their purchases, they more loyal they’re likely to be to the brands and retailers they shop.
“It’s no secret that consumers respond well to brands they think understand them,” said Jessica Murphy, co-founder and chief customer officer of True Fit. “But ‘fit’ is such a loaded word.” According to Murphy, brands and consumers often fall victim to the same misconception: that fit is solely about a garment’s sizing, and can follow a simple, easily scalable guideline. That notion hurts brands and can hurt their marketshare, Murphy said.
“Fit isn’t just taking in the knee by an inch. It’s not just about the microevolution,” Murphy said, adding that when True Fit started, the ethos was focused on a reduction in returns, but the company has broadened its mission significantly. Fit, Murphy said, is the key to loyalty, which is the primary factor driving repeat purchases. “It’s not just about getting customers to convert, but getting people to trust and buy to begin with,” she said.
Eighty percent of consumers that come to True Fit’s partner sites buy once and never come back, according to Murphy. “Customers jump all over the place,” she said. “Successful brands need to offer products not just in the size that works, but that are relevant to them in that moment. Having both of those is how you compete with logistics experts like Amazon.”
True Fit unifies data from multiple channels—brands’ design information, retailers’ sales data and customers’ own preferences—to give a more holistic picture of a product’s potential. “Data unification goes far beyond sizing and fit specifically,” Murphy said. “Having it all work in tandem is how consumers navigate and understand what you’re selling.”
And social media adds another dimension to the data by providing a visual database for apparel companies to see how customers are actually wearing their product. It’s a level of user feedback that gives the brands data that would’ve taken much longer to acquire even five or 10 years ago—and provides extra context to the reviews that consumers leave directly on brand websites. It’s up to brands, Murphy explained, to act on this insight, adding “ultimately, the retailer that’s most responsive to the voice of the consumer is breeding the most loyalty.”
And being responsive means including shoppers in the conversation. Too often, inconsistent messaging creates a stumbling block for brands, Murphy said. Shoppers need to know if a brand changes its sizing and they need to understand how that update will affect how the pieces look on them. “Brands need to modify the messaging and communicate that to the consumer, or they’ll perceive the change as unfavorable,” Murphy said. “If you’re making a skinny jean even skinnier, and a whole group of customers don’t want that, you’re going to alienate them.”
Much of the conversation around fit revolves around next-gen technologies, like 3-D rendering and augmented reality.
“That technology is something we’ve watched for a long time, since the late nineties,” said Murphy. While virtual fit technology has value, it’s missing something, she said. “The key piece of data they’re missing is preference data,” Murphy pointed out. “It’s faster than other approaches and it helps brands understand their unique customers.”
“Consumers will ask, ‘Does it fit, does it feel good, does it delight me?’” Murphy explained. “It isn’t just about catering to body type, but producing and presenting garments that make the consumer feel good.”