The majority of these new systems do not cost a thing for the buyer
to use. They are more about recommending a more exact sizing and
style than if the customer tries to pick an item on their own.
Given that the average woman has $550 worth of unused clothing in
her closet, according to a recent survey by VoucherCloud.net, a
retail coupon site, shoppers could use a little help paring down
their purchases to things they actually like and will wear.
One virtual try-on system is made by FaceCake (http://www.facecake.com/),
based near Los Angeles. Called Swivel HD, it works with Microsoft’s
Kinect 2 to project clothing onto users as though they are looking
in a mirror. Users stand about two feet away and hold out their
hands as if they are grabbing products off a rack. If you bend with
a virtual purse on, the strap bends with you so you can see how it
fits your body contours.
"You don't have to tell it anything," says FaceCake Chief Executive
Officer Linda Smith.
When the technology was featured at the Dubai Shopping Festival in
December, shoppers tried on an average of 26 products - five times
more products than the average shopper takes into a dressing room,
according to FaceCake.
This creates cost savings in various ways. For starters, buyers can
view clothes in an ensemble more easily, and get a better idea of
how those clothes look against their skin tone. Another feature lets
users share photos of their potential choices via social media, so
buyers can get input before making purchases.
With other software-based tools, a little user information is
needed, but it can go a long way.
True Fit (http://www.truefit.com/), software built for retailers,
works with more than 1,000 brands like Michael Kors and Sean John.
Shoppers can create a new profile in 60 seconds or less by entering
their height, weight, body type and size of their favorite dress
instead of traditional measurements.
The technology then analyzes billions of data points to make
clothing recommendations; the more a person uses it, the more True
Fit "learns" about what works for them.
"It helps us zero in on some things that fit them in real life,"
says co-founder Romney Evans. "We also look at past sales
information so we can get smart about a recommendation. It's really
an ongoing conversation with customers, and those conversations will
get better with time."
Some technologies do use measurements.
At Me-Ality's website (http://www.me-ality.com/), customers can
input four simple measurements to get clothing recommendations.
[to top of second column]
The Left Shoe company (http://www.leftshoecompany.com/) could
finally make the Brannock Device - the metal plate with sliders that
has measured shoe sizes since 1927 - a thing of the past. At the
West Hollywood, California-based store, customers stand on a
platform while a high-resolution camera rotates around each foot on
a circular track, taking 300 total images in 40 seconds.
As of now, this kind of fitting can't be done via the web, but Left
Shoe store co-owner Patrick Mayworm says a mobile-based system is
At Stitch Fix (https://www.stitchfix.com/), it takes about 10
minutes to complete a profile that addresses size, style, shape and
lifestyle - as well as your shopping budget. A personal stylist then
picks five items for you. It costs $20, but that amount applies to
paying for the clothes you keep. If you keep all five, you get a 25
percent discount; if you return any, there are no restocking fees
and Stitch Fix pays the postage.
The average spend per item is $55, which "is very similar to
retailers like the Gap," says Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina
Lake. "They're also saving money that they would otherwise spend on
gas to get to the mall, or on shipping and returns for online
purchases," she adds.
You can also get recommendations via social media from companies
like Zappos. All you have to do is type #nextootd on your Instagram
postings and they'll respond to you based on your user profile.
And starting in June, Zappos will also offer #askzappos, where you
can snap a picture of an outfit you like and get help finding out
where to buy it.
"People think about shopping in a different context now," says Will
Young, director of Zappos Labs in San Francisco.
(The story was corrected in the 17th paragraph, to state the $55
average spend to be per item, not overall.)
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or at http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance.;
Editing by Beth Pinsker and Jonathan Oatis)
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