As a new resident of New York and an ITP graduate student, NYC’s disruptive innovation scene drew me in very quickly with no bandwidth for anything else in life. No longer having time to sift through racks in storefronts, I turned to online stores to shop for clothes. Soon thereafter – as my mirror was mocking me for my most recent online purchase, an ill-fitting dumpy skirt – it became apparent to me that the current framework for online shopping does not work. It could vastly be improved by adopting emerging technology.
A number of companies are aiming to improve the online shopping experience. For example, True Fit, FITIQUETTE/Myntra.com, and UPcload allow consumers to create avatars based on several questions about their body type and then virtually try on outfits. Although I applaud the effort, the approach isn’t progressive enough in my mind.
Why isn’t there a Kinect based Xbox shopping app?
I pondered over an interesting intersection of 3D depth sensors and online shopping.I wanted to use the xbox kinect to try on clothes virtually before I bought it. Could this situation have been avoided (or minimized by reducing the frequency at which online clothing purchases are returned) if consumers were able to try on clothes on their actual body scan before purchasing?
Nordstrom Labs has done interesting experiments in collaboration with Styku. Styku stemmed from Microsoft’s accelerator program, and aims to pioneer a precise apparel fit and size prediction and visualization platform. Their current solution requires an initial in-store body scan at a storefront. Once consumers’ scans have been generated, their measurements are saved to a web-based profile. From that point forward, consumers are able to virtually try on clothing from the comfort of their homes. ”Nordstrom appears to be on the cusp of rolling out a similar program but has been hesitant given their sales staff has "expressed difficulty understanding the commission scheme for online sales." “
What we need to understand is that 3D body scanning technology is here. It’s here for tablets and it’s here for the smartphones. Given it’s applications, 3D body scanning technology is only going to get faster, smarter and more efficient. Companies, like 3D-A-PORTER, are working on solutions that seem more viable. On the consumer end, 3D-A-PORTER offers options of body scanning from a booth, computer or iPhone. For the retailers, they offer solutions for 3D scanning of their inventory, virtual try-ons and 3D mirrors.
This seems like a perfect solution for e-commerce retailers who have seemingly been more likely to experiment with technology-based solutions to augment the online shopping experience for consumers. MyHabit (owned by Amazon), for example, currently uses 360 video technology to showcase the fit and drape of most apparel on live models. I think fashion e-commerce retailers would stand to benefit from streamlining efforts to organize a new team that support virtual 3D fitting rooms. A part of this team would develop their websites and apps to integrate virtual try-ons. Another part of the team is focused on 3D scanning clothes and building out their inventory.
I believe this is the near future scenario they must accommodate for to be industry leaders.