Consumers are demanding and embracing several contactless elements throughout the shopping journey – from ordering to payment and delivery. It is not surprising that they are also seeking out contactless options for trying on apparel, Coresight Research points out.
If technology can provide an effective virtual alternative to the physical trying-on experience, this would remove the need for sanitising and restocking tried-on items. At the same time, this will also help in reducing the significant expense of receiving and processing items returned due to sizing issues.
“Consumers are understandably squeamish in the current environment about going to the mall and trying on clothing that may have been recently tried on by someone else, particularly as it is not well understood how long the coronavirus can survive on fabric. Policies for segregating or sanitising tried-on items vary widely by the retailer, and the consumer has to trust that each retailer’s measures were indeed followed,” observes Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder, Coresight Research.
In order to meet consumer demand for contactless for trying on apparel, real estate company Brookfield Properties recently announced the nationwide rollout of fitting technology through FIT:MATCH studios across the US. This will be launched Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles by mid-September. The two companies began testing the technology in a Houston mall in late 2019; 80% of shoppers entering the studio participated in the virtual experience, totalling 4,000 over a three-month period. According to the companies, the feedback was generally positive, generating a high net promoter score.
In a FIT:MATCH studio, each consumer is asked a couple of questions about fit preferences before being scanned. The technology captures 150 data points from the user’s body in about 10 seconds. This data is then processed using artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the best clothing fit for the individual. The user receives a unique FITCH ID and a link to a personalised apparel selection from participating brands; recommended items have a 90% or greater likelihood of being a good fit, according to FIT:MATCH. Over time, data built up about the user’s fit and style preferences ensure that recommendations continuously improve.
“Many companies have attempted to solve returns issues related to fitting by using technologies such as smartphone cameras and AI. Still, there has been much difficulty in coordinating sizing between brands and manufacturing. For example, one brand’s ‘large’ may be another brand’s ‘medium’, and the factory may have loose quality controls leading to significant variation even in items of the same size,” Weinswig stated.
By offering personalised services to consumers, such fitting issues can be obliterated, while offering a contactless shopping experience.