When UK/Estonia-based virtual fitting room startup Fits.me first outed its solution to the try-for-size-before-you-buy problem of clothes shopping online, it was technologically eye-catching to say the least. Robot mannequins that can be adjusted to mimic any body shape and size were dressed in each garment and thousands of photographs taken to enable shoppers with corresponding body measurements to visualise how they would fit.
It was also expensive, raising inevitable questions around how Fits.me would scale. To answer that question, the company, which closed a $7.2 million Series A round in April, offers a second, lower-end, solution that is photography-free, simply matching a consumer’s own self-measurements with those taken directly from the item of clothing. The idea being that its fully-fledged and more expensive “Virtual Fitting Room” is suited to high-end fashion retailers whose range of clothing is smaller and has higher margins, or for the most profitable percentage of a larger retailer’s inventory. In other cases, the retailer can fall back on the cheaper “Fit Advisor” option.
(Update: Fits.me is at pains to point out that neither option is “cheaper” or more scalable but that its Virtual Fitting Room and Fit Advisor options serve different retailer models. “Fit Advisor is for retailers with wide, shallow stock and/or rapidly changing stocklines,” says Fits.me VP Sales Peter Rankin in an email to TechCrunch. “Our two products have comparable pricing; there is no ‘cheaper’ solution. Both offer retailers a staggering rate of return on investment by virtue of their ability to slash garment return rates despite modest pricing,” he says.)
Today, however, Fits.me is announcing two new “innovations” that it thinks goes even further to solving the scaling problem, both from a customer and retailer’s point-of-view.
For retailers, it’s introducing “one-size garment measurement” for its low-end Fit Advisor option that means to acquire measurements for hundreds of garments in multiple sizes, retailers only need to measure a single size of garment, with Fits.me’s algorithm taking care of the rest. If that sounds like a bit of a fudge, Fits.me claims that this results in as little as 2.5% loss of accuracy, which it says is negligible.
The cost benefit, of course, is much higher, which the company is inevitably talking up as the breakthrough needed to pick up more retail customers. “This is going to put our virtual fitting rooms on the agenda for any retailer previously put-off virtual fitting rooms by the prospect either of locating, aggregating and measuring entire collections or of accepting the inferior technique of using design measurements instead of actual measurements,” said Peter Rankin, VP Sales, in a statement.
The second innovation is aimed squarely at consumers who may have been put off by the requirement to measure themselves in order to virtually try-on clothes. Powered by what Fits.me claims is one of the largest databases of real-body measurements, which it’s presumably built up since launch, its newly developed algorithm estimates body measurement based only on a shopper’s age, height, weight and general body shape. Once again, the company says any loss of accuracy is negligible in terms of providing fit information. Self-measurement is known to sometimes be woefully inaccurate, after all.
In terms of traction, Fits.me says it now has 26 virtual fitting rooms deployed in nine countries; 23 of these contracts are for the full Virtual Fitting Room solution, nine are for Fit Advisor, and six are for both. It will also be interesting to see if uptake picks up significantly, both new client wins and actual usage by consumers, based on today’s product innovations.
To that end, existing clients include Austin Reed, Avenue 32, Baukjen, Bilka, CC Fashion, Crew Clothing, Dirty Jerz, Ghost, Hawes & Curtis, Henri Lloyd, HUGO BOSS, Isabella Oliver, John Smedley, L.K.Bennett, M&Co, Mexx, Musto, Nicole Farhi, Pretty Green, QVC, Savile Row Company, Superdry, Top Vintage, Thomas Pink and Viyella.
Of course, Fits.me isn’t without competitors (we’ve previously likened the virtual fitting room market to a space race). These include Virtusize, True Fit, Metail and Clothes Horse – to name just a few.