Women tend to dress to impress; while the whole idea of virtual fitting technology which aims to enhance the online shopping experience for apparel is often created by men. Can men’s technical pragmatism meet women’s emotional vanity?
It is said Amazon has put a lot of efforts into virtul fitting, for instance:
-In October 2017, it acquired a 3D body model startup Body Labs. Its API can accurately predict and measure the 3D shape of your customers using just a single image, which would be very useful for e-commerce sizing and fitting.
-In January 2018, it filed a smart mirror patent in order to bring virtual fitting room into customer’s home: a blended-reality display that puts your image into a virtual scene, and superimposes an item of clothing or a layer of makeup; it can also completely change the backdrop of the mirror, transforming users to whatever location.
-Just recently Amazon has issued an invitation to one of its New York offices for customers to get their bodies scanned, an effort to develop an apparel-fitting service using a 3-D body scanning machine
Other startups are working on very similar concepts, such as Perfitly, see video demo below:
But hold on a second, we start to hear the differences of opinions from some women, if not all.
“The virtual fitting just turns me into a dull paper doll, and I still have no idea how the clothing will look on my real body”
“I do not like the 3D avatar of me, which makes me look ugly…I prefer other human models who give me the illusion that this dress might be good on my body”
“Regarding showing the drape and lay of the fabric, I still want the touch&feel”
“I am not that comfortable of the bare-naked body scan…how do I know my body privacy is protected?”
“Though fitting is one important metric of apparel purchase, it is not everything in the decision process…I also need to consider the apparel style works for my whole look”
So on so forth…
And they say great e-commerce minds think alike
In China, Alibaba’s Tmall and some brands did conduct the experiment with a local startup to work on a virtual fitting avatar, but it does not seem to gain substantial traction.
Alibaba also has been toying with the concept of the smart mirror of virtual fitting, but it is pushing the innovation into the offline store, not necessarily for e-commerce shopping.
Last week, Alibaba even proudly introduced “try before you purchase” service. The new service will let Alibaba Super Members order clothes without payment and try them for seven days. If they decide to keep them, Tmall will automatically deduct the cost from their Alipay accounts. If not, shoppers can return them free of charge. Currently, more than 14,000 products from 15 local and international brands are participating in the service, including Italy’s Miss Sixty, Vancouver-based Lululemon and China’s home-grown labels Stella Luna, Dazzle, Ein, Yiner and Conquis. By coincidence, last year summer, Amazon announced the equivalent policy of “try before you buy” for fashion. The service in this month is fully out of beta and open to all Prime members. The strategy might suggest many female online shoppers still prefer the traditional way of “try and return”.
Nevertheless, there could be a huge difference between the two As for doing the same thing, the costs. At this stage, the return cost in China is still cheap, around USD1.8 per se in terms of the delivery. But in the US, it would be much higher. That is why Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has the urgency of throwing big money onto this side of R&D while Alibaba’s Jack Ma would not necessarily feel the pinch of spoiling his online customers in the short run.
Author: Cecilia Wu