In the press
Inside the Virtual Fitting Room - Ecommerce Express
December 16, 2012
Ever take ten garments into a fitting room, just to come out with only one that fits?
This common occurrence proves that most clothing-related purchasing decisions are made inside fitting rooms - which poses a big problem for clothing retailers on the Web.
Perhaps the most profitable e-commerce category, apparel can also be the most challenging for merchants due to consumer uncertainties of how an online image translates into the right size, fit and look. However, new technologies are attempting to remedy this problem by providing e-commerce retailers with "virtual" fitting rooms.
These solutions allow consumers to virtually "try on" clothing with a custom model before hitting the checkout - which, according to one provider, can yield three times as many conversions and lower return rates by nearly 30 percent. Virtual fitting rooms also provide customers with an increased lifetime value by ensuring that they receive the desired look.
"Fashion is one of the most emotional purchases", says Heikki Haldre, CEO of Fits.me. "And customers do not want to purchase the right to return an item. They want to buy clothes that fit." Integrating one of these platforms into an e-commerce site better allows retailers to be able to meet that need for online consumers, but they must first understand the specific benefits that each solution can provide. So, let's step inside some virtual fitting rooms and see what these innovative technologies have to offer.
This virtual fitting room enables consumers to mix and match clothes, shoes and accessories with a customizable model. The solution generates a fully digitized 3D garment based on two existing images - one front view and one back view. It can be seen in action at www.quizclothing.co.uk and www.menatwork.nl. This solution can be integrated into any existing website and all e-commerce platforms. Once it is integrated, the fitting room is served from a GPU-based infrastructure and runs on all devices without a plugin, including desktops, mobile phones and tablets. One of this solution's selling points to merchants is that MimicMe enables consumers to sample large amounts of retailers' inventories in a timely fashion. The company says that 20 percent of online visitors try on more than 25 garments per visit. "Visualizing how items match together increases desire and makes people eager to complete a look," says Xavier Baars, founder and CEO of MimicMe. "This is the main advantage over augmented reality solutions, where in the same amount of time people can hardly view a handful of items."
MY VIRTUAL MODEL
This virtual fitting room can be integrated into an e-commerce site through the solution's Application Programming Interface (API). Similar to MimicMe, My Virtual Model can use merchants' existing apparel pictures and only requires two photos per garment — a front and back view — in order for consumers to see how they fit from all angles. This solution supplies the final images of the models wearing each outfit, but the buttons, images and links around the models are under the control of the retailer.
The API enables the images of the models to be rendered in multiple sizes, which can then be placed into any product page, doesn't recommend what size a customer should buy, it focuses category page or promotional Web page. While the solution exclusively on the visualization of outfits on different body shapes. The API also allows for personalization of the model's body shape and appearance, as well as allowing for dressing, undressing and turning of the model, and background changes. The virtual outfitting tools can also be used for mobile apps.
The company claims that My Virtual Model not only lifts conversion rates for retailers but that average order values (AOV) can also be raised by up to 200 percent.
"People using My Virtual Model spend on average 10 minutes on the site and try on an average of eight items," says Gregory Saumier-Finch, general manager of My Virtual Model.
FITS.ME Unlike the previous options, this solution focuses solely on fit and size. Fits.me uses shape-shifting robotic mannequins to display how clothes will look on various body types. The solution requires that retailers send them samples of clothing in various sizes, and photos are taken of how the clothing appears during the robot's permutations. On average, about 2,000 photos are taken of each garment and the images are stored and served from cloud servers. When consumers visit a retailer's site, they input their measurements and are shown the corresponding photos that match their clothing selections and body types - accurately depicting how each garment will look on individual shoppers. "It's hard enough for online shoppers to wait for their items to arrive in the mail," says Haldre. "Therefore, it is important for the brand that customers not need to return them."
Try it on for size While there are many other virtual platforms such as Styku, Zugara and Mipso - some of which are in the augmented reality or body-scanner realm - it is important for merchants to review each solution before choosing which solution "fits" best. But the ability to provide consumers with depictions of how items will appear on their bodies should ultimately increase sales, lower return rates and keep customers returning to "try on" something new.
About the Author: Allison Howen is an associate editor at Website Magazine, writing primarily about ecommerce and social media.
Plus-Size Mastersite Adds E-Model To Platform, Giving Customers The Ability To Create Thousands Of Outfit Combinations
October 17, 2011
NEW YORK, OneStopPlus.com, a division of Redcats USA and the world's first and only web-mall for plus-size women and big & tall men, announces the launch of its first "Virtual Model," a technologically-advanced visual option for showcasing OneStopPlus.com's trend-driven, plus-size styles to its customers. The "Virtual Model," created by the Montreal-based company My Virtual Model, can be dressed in 200 different styles from OneStopPlus.com's repertoire, creating upwards of 30,000 outfit combinations. The avatar's image can be personalized with the eye, skin and hair color of the customer's choosing.
With its forward-thinking approach, OneStopPlus.com continuously adds new innovations and like-minded brands to the site, successfully catering to its growing customer base. The company's latest move to bring "Virtual Model" technology to the site once again demonstrates that OneStopPlus.com is a pioneer in the ever-changing fashion industry, proving that women who are plus-size can also experience the most advanced, high-fashion lifestyle.
In conjunction with the launch of this new hi-tech function, OneStopPlus.com is currently hosting a contest where customers are invited to create their best outfits using the "Virtual Model." The individual with the most votes for her look at the end of the contest will win a $250 gift card towards the purchase of their outfit and will have her avatar highlighted on the home page of OneStopPlus.com. The styling contest will be open from 10/14/11 to 11/14/11. No purchase is necessary to enter the contest. For complete details, go to http://www.onestopplus.com/staticpage/contentpage.aspx?pagename=mvm.
"We are thrilled to launch our 'Virtual Model' onto the OneStopPlus.com website, a move that will undoubtedly help our customers to create myriad style options at affordable prices," said Jim Lofgren, Vice President/Brand Manager for OneStopPlus.com. "This fun and interactive tool is a welcome addition as we continue to aggressively pursue the best plus-size innovations and style options for our customers."
"We wanted to provide our customers with a user friendly and efficient application that further advances the convenience of shopping online," said Yann Tanini, Vice President, E-Commerce, OneStopPlus.com Group. "With this addition of the 'Virtual Model,' our customers can become their own stylists, mixing and matching outfit combinations to create their own personal collections." Launched in 2007, OneStopPlus.com has created a thriving marketplace business model that features well-known proprietary brands, as well as external brands. So far in 2011, OneStopPlus.com has amassed more than 10 external partners to its website, sending a powerful message about its ability to provide its customer with an escalating variety of styles and fashions at a great value. As a major-player at the forefront of the fashion and technology industries, OneStopPlus.com was one of the first companies to produce a virtual runway show to simulcast throughout the world and allows its customers to shop via iPhone and iPad accessible technology. The launch of the "Virtual Model" is an evident extension of the company's technology-driven agenda.
For more information, please visit: http://www.onestopplus.com/, our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @onestopplus.
About Redcats USA
Redcats USA is a dynamic, multi-channel, web-driven home-shopping leader, with numerous successful brands in its portfolio: AVENUE, Woman Within, Jessica London, Roaman's, KingSize, and BrylaneHome sold on OneStopPlus.com, The Sportsman's Guide and TGW.com - The Golf Warehouse. Redcats USA offers a wide range of value and quality driven merchandise categories, including men's and women's plus-size apparel, home and lifestyle products, and sporting goods/outdoor gear. Redcats USA is a Redcats company.
Redcats is a leading worldwide online retailer for fashion and home furnishings. The group gathers 17 European and US based brands in 31 countries: Avenue, Woman Within, Jessica London, Roaman's, KingSize, BrylaneHome, OneStopPlus.com, The Sportsman's Guide, TGW.com - The Golf Warehouse, Ellos, La Redoute, Vertbaudet, Cyrillus, Somewhere, Daxon, Stella McCartney Kids and Castaluna. In 2010, Redcats generated 3.436 billion euros of sales including 54% on Internet and employs over 14,000 associates. Redcats distribution network combines more than 70 e-commerce sites, nearly 600 stores and around 30 catalogues for 26 million active customers. Redcats is a PPR Company. For any further information: www.redcats.com