Virtual-Fit Tech Update: Accessories, 2016
Virtual-fit tech remains a significant weapon in the battle against costly online returns – especially with increasingly demanding digital natives who actively expect personalised brand services. US shoppers alone typically send back 30% of all footwear and apparel bought online – twice the return rate of goods bought in physical stores (Customer Growth Firm, 2016).
While the complexities of fabric, styling preferences and fluctuating sizing still present obstacles for the fashion industry, the less slippery territories of footwear and accessories are witnessing more widespread innovation straddling in-store, online and mobile-primed concepts. We spotlight some of the best current initiatives.
Sports-Ready: DIY Data, On the Move
Israeli technologists Fitfully have developed a measurement and calibration system for consumer use. The ultra-accessible combination of a smartphone, a piece of newspaper and a credit card can be used to accurately assess the fit of footwear in just 30 seconds.
Fitfully’s app guides the user on how to scan their feet (the user needs to wear a patterned sock, allowing the software to recognise the shape of their foot), producing a 3D model from around 25,000 video-captured measurements. The app then provides a coloured pressure map showing where a shoe fits well (green) and where it doesn’t (red).
Primed for the sports market, Fitfully has already launched a beta website with Adidas, where shoppers can virtually try on numerous styles. It’s also working with another (currently undisclosed) footwear manufacturer and brands to build a 3D database of consumer measurements, which could be used to offer bespoke shoes.
Expert Fit, In-store
Swedish technologists Volumental partnered with US retailer Nordstrom in early 2016 on in-store tech that allows sales assistants to make more accurate footwear recommendations for both fashion and sports shoes. Customers stand on a depth-camera scanner to build a 3D image including foot-arch length and ball width. The results are then relayed to a connected tablet featuring recommendation software connected directly to Nordstrom’s entire inventory.
Volumental is currently evolving the technology for mobile use – working with Swedish brand Falchenberg and German label Scarosso to offer customised, handcrafted leather shoes.
Digitally Customising the Eyewear Retail Experience
- Volumental is using similar but wall-mounted versions of the depth-based scanning technology for opticians and eyewear retailers to show look and fit. Results are displayed on handheld tablets and allow consumers to virtually modify the frames they’re viewing. Their final preferences are stored on a cloud-based system to be recalled and re-assessed by customers later. German eyewear manufacturer Mykita is using the system to allow opticians selling its products to show the effects of tiny adjustments to glasses in real time.
- UK e-tailer Glasses Direct launched a 3D, website-based fitting tool dubbed Ditto in 2015. It deploys users’ webcams to create a 3D picture of their faces, scanning data points by creating a video as the camera moves from side to side (a credit card is used to establish scale). Once scanned, a menu of styles deemed most suitable is offered up to the consumer. See Elevating Eyewear for more.
- Similarly, British retailer Specsavers’ smartphone app allows users to virtually try on and adjust multiple styles. Consumers scan their faces using a smartphone camera by simply turning their head from side to side. This generates a range of glasses to choose from, accompanied by images of the user’s face from several angles. The app includes a function that allows users to select their favourites to try on later in-store – effectively serving as a time-saving, personally curated pre-edit.