Apparel customer sizing and adjacent tools

(This is a apparently a write-up of one area of focus for me at my recent attendance at the Retail Technology Show)

We all “know” that ecommerce customers return a lot of apparel items because they don’t like the fit/drape/shape; and also buy multiple sizes/colours because of lack of consistency (across and with brands). And customers have trouble filtering search results to get clothes that will fit them (e.g. filtering by closeness of match to sizes of models in photo shoots, which also means retailers may need to shoot on more than one model to improve conversion).

What tools have you seen to mitigate this problem?

Recently I have seen demos of

  • Sizer : AI image analytics to allow determination of customer size (could also be used for model’s size during photo shooting process, so you can say to the customer “this model is size xxx, height/weight”, and maybe more detailed for use in search facets)
  • Vestico: startup Video social proof (with sizing data capture and prioritisation of videos that are most similar to the customer). Incentivise customers and employees to upload as-worn videos of garment/style tips
  • Lily: Video analytics/SI to surface details of the product from images and other data to include on product detail pages and search facets.

And not a software supplier (yet):

Speaker in the sustainability track, Julia Reynolds, (who has a long history in UK mass market Apparel) is working on solving the problem of lack of supply of clothing that is cut to fit certain demographics properly (mainly older demographic) as well as improving the recyclability of the clothing. Her view is the key to improving fit is building out a base of research using body scanning tools and analytics across a wide base of sample subjects, leading a move away from the small number of body shapes typically used in clothing design and size marking to a wider number of sizes. Julia’s assertion based on limited data and a career of experience is more than 40 size/cut variants for women will be needed to improve accuracy of fit across the UK population.

(I have also seen reports of a niche supplier of men’s trousers now offering 200 sizes, part made offshore but finished onshore to order)

Sarah McVittie spoke at a conference I was at (she owns Dressipi) - She said 60% of UK fashion ends up in landfill. Adjacent point but it factors in mis sizing, over purchasing etc.

Yes, aware of Dressippi (who have been around for a while).

And yes on the fashion to landfill issue (Julia Reynolds called out that fact too). North America figures are similar, I expect other G20 likewise, and I would expect similar for wealthier consumers in developing countries (South America, MEA, parts of Asia)

The challenge with fashion to landfill is the split between pre-sale landfill and end of garment life landfill (clothing not recyclable for fibre and not acceptable for resale on person to person platforms or charity/thrift).

Sizing tools makes the problem more visible to apparel brands if they look at the conversion data in detail (products failing to convert after customer uses sizing tools), to create an improvement loop (better designs). Overbuys can be due to non conversion (right product poorly executed/wrong price, or totally wrong product for the customer) or over optimistic planning (too much of a good thing).