Since most of us today lead busy lifestyles, we’re becoming increasingly used to the convenience of online shopping. However, when it comes to buying clothes online, it’s always a guessing game. Getting clothes that will fit is a major issue in online shopping. In fact, the market research firm Opinium estimates that shoppers in the UK return half of the clothes they buy online due to sizing issues.
Besides making shoppers frustrated and displeased, returns also negatively affect retailers’ budgets, because they’re super costly. This has encouraged retailers to start implementing tech-enhanced solutions to help their customers find clothes that fit, even when they’re shopping online.
RedThread provides its customers with clothing that fits like a glove
For instance, the San Francisco-based RedThread, which sells women’s clothing, is relying on algorithms and 3D mobile body scanning to make sure its customers are buying clothes that will fit them like a glove. Here’s how RedThread’s tech works. Shoppers are first required to take a short quiz regarding their size. Before they finalise their purchase, they should take four photos of themselves, three from different angles, and one photo of an empty room. Then, the 3D body scanning technology “pulls 15 specific measurements from the model and inputs them into RedThread’s algorithms to calculate the best fit”. After the order is completed, RedThread will deliver clothing directly to the customer in a week.
The company’s founder, Meghan Litchfield, believes this new concept is “challenging the apparel industry and everything that it does, from how women shop, to how clothing is designed, to how it’s manufactured, and ultimately, to how women feel about themselves and perceive their bodies”. Currently, RedThread’s offering includes t-shirts, pants, and jackets, but the company plans to expand its product line and provide working women with more everyday basics in the future.
Thread is harnessing the power of AI to recommend the right clothing pieces to shoppers
Similar to RedThread, a startup from London called Thread is “building a new way of shopping for clothes”. Thread specialises in men’s apparel and is using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) as well as human stylists to recommend clothes that will fit their customers. Shoppers are only required to sign up to Thread’s website, upload a few photos of themselves, and input data regarding their measurements and budget. Once all these steps are taken, they’ll be provided with their own stylist, who’ll recommend clothes for them to buy. Machine learning algorithms will go through thousands of clothing items to find the right ones. This will make the stylist’s work a lot easier.
Thread is quite popular among UK shoppers. For instance, Retail Dive reports that the company has over one million shoppers, 25 per cent of whom buy all of their clothes from Thread. The startup offers around 200,000 products from leading brands such as Ted Baker, Hugo Boss, and Levi’s. And recently, H&M invested $13 million in this e-commerce startup. The goal is to use the funding to expand Thread’s AI team and improve its brand name.
This weird-looking spandex suit determines your body measurements
Both RedThread and Thread will help you get clothing that fits. But there’s an even more innovative solution set to transform online shopping. Zozosuit, developed by the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, is a two-piece bodysuit designed to measure a shopper’s proportions. The Zozosuit kit includes a spandex suit and a cardboard stand for a smartphone. Once you’ve put on the suit and downloaded Zozosuit’s app, you can place your smartphone on the stand, so it can take photos of you. Since the Zozosuit is covered with over 350 white dots, the app will identify the position of each dot, and by analysing them, it will create an accurate 3D model of the shopper’s body. Based on this 3D model, consumers can shop from the Zozo website, which offers a wide selection of clothing staples, including jeans, t-shirts, and crewnecks.
Furthermore, since measurements and sizing are something we want to keep for ourselves, the Zozosuit will ensure the privacy of its customers and won’t share their personal information with third parties. After its launch, the Zozosuit became a great hit in Japan. During the first months since its launch, Zozosuit units were delivered to millions of customers. The company is on a mission to make this innovation available in other countries as well, such as the US, Australia, and Brazil.
Getting a tailored-made suit is a lot quicker thanks to Brooks Brothers’ tech
Innovations like the Zozosuit will certainly reduce return rates and make online shopping quicker and more reliable. However, tech can also help brick-and-mortar retailers to provide their customers with tailored clothing. For instance, the men’s clothing retailer Brooks Brothers is using an app to deliver suits to its customers faster. The app allows customers to set up an in-store appointment, measure themselves, and send the data to Brooks Brothers’ manufacturing facility.
Before the company implemented this app, customers usually had to wait around 14 weeks for their suit to be manufactured and delivered to them. With this innovation, the process takes five to six weeks. The reason why Brooks Brothers decided to change their business model lies in the fact that in 2015, the company had $2 million worth of products that were returned or not even delivered. So, the company decided it was time to make a change and cut the cost by at least three-fourths. Andre D’Elia, the director of tailoring services and made to measure at Brooks Brothers, explains that the company has already witnessed a decrease in the number of rejected and non-delivered clothing pieces.
To make online shopping truly customised, some retail businesses are experimenting with technologies such as AI, machine learning, and 3D scanning to provide their customers with accurate sizing information. Based on this data, shoppers can buy clothes online that will fit them. Besides making consumers satisfied, this tech will also help retailers reduce their return rates and improve profitability.