The ease of online shopping continues to threaten brick-and-mortar retailers, as evidenced by the transformation of malls into experiential environments
. Even still, the in-store experience offers certain inalienable benefits, such as the ability to try on apparel and accessories. So, some digital retailers are experimenting with “try before you buy”
models, while others are exploring plug-ins and apps that help consumers find the best fit or performance match…no returns necessary.
For online shoppers, vanity sizing
makes it difficult to know whether a size 6 in one designer’s line is a size 6 in another’s. Clothes Horse
, a New York-based fashion technology firm, aims to resolve this by equipping online retailers with an algorithmic plug-in that consumers can use to determine their best fitting size. Shoppers looking to buy from sites that use the technology are given a drop-down menu of detailed questions about their measurements and body type in order to divine their correct size. Among the brands that have tested the tool is Bonobos
, a menswear e-tailer known for its particularly flattering wares. Coincidence?
Like Clothes Horse, UPcload
is an e-commerce tool that helps shoppers find their best fitting size in a particular apparel brand. However, unlike the aforementioned service, this German startup does not rely on algorithmic calculations
. Rather, it uses shopper-submitted webcam photos to take body measurements that are as accurate as that of a professional tailor. Shoppers, in order to glean photos that work accurately with the tool, must wear form-fitting clothing and hold a standard CD or DVD to measure relative body dimensions. Of course, since fit is such a subjective thing, future iterations may also need to poll shoppers on their preferences.
Many online eyeglasses retailers
offer the ability to try on frames virtually, but Oakley
may be the first to offer virtual tests of the actual lenses. The performance brand’s OakleyView
app guides outdoor sports enthusiasts in finding the most appropriate lens tint for their particular activity and environment. Athletes choose from five different outdoor environments (street, water, golf course, snow, and cross-country) and a wide spectrum of weather conditions (from dim and foggy to bright and sunny) to simulate their unique conditions. They can then test any of Oakley’s 18 lens tints to ensure that they won’t be blinded by the light while teeing off or casting a line.