Imagine a world where we shop for apparel from our own AI-matched assortment. Knowing every item will fit us. Never needing to try on clothes or deal with returns again.
Everywhere we turn we read all about the “retail apocalypse”. The closing of entire chains of once-thriving apparel retail brands, and the doomed fate of the entire apparel sector brought about by the rapid adoption of technology.
The team at a new technology start-up called FIT:MATCH sees this very differently. They believe the greatest opportunity lies in leveraging technology innovation to reshape apparel retail. They are building an AI-powered shopping platform that addresses some of the deepest pain points that have plagued apparel consumers, brands and retailers for as long as we can remember.
As data scientists, they started by understanding the apparel shopping customer journey and where the pain points exist for stakeholders along the way. It turns out that the root cause of many of the largest and most material challenges stem from poor-fitting products.
As consumers when we shop for apparel, we can’t be confident that something will fit us unless we try it on. So we either have to get to a store, often to be disappointed after making the trip, or buy online which in itself is a huge fit gamble. To mitigate, we might buy multiple sizes, or we just take that blind leap of faith and activate the purchase button only to find out very often- in fact about 40% of the time – that we’ll need to return the product.
For apparel brands and retailers, there are also constant challenges every step of the journey, each representing elements of risk. From getting the design and fit right, to planning inventory accurately, to converting browsers into purchasers, and ensuring what they sell doesn’t get returned.
In the absence of innovative technology and empowering data, the entire apparel shopping experience has been largely “hit or miss” when it comes to fit. Across the board, so much time and money is wasted, manifesting in poor conversion rates, increased markdowns, increased returns and poor customer reviews. A vicious cycle of sorts with low customer satisfaction, weak retailer economics, and an entire retail ecosystem that is bulging with waste.
What the FIT:MATCH team is building is an innovative combination of 3D, AI and machine learning technologies. This powerful platform will be the game changer moving us from the hit or miss of apparel retail today, to a sustainable fit-predictive personalization solution that will deliver significant positive impact up and down stream for apparel brands and shoppers.
How it works…
Customers visit the FIT:MATCH Studio to get a one-time 3D-AI measurement – a personalized point-cloud avatar is created and a comprehensive set of precise measurements are collected. The team refers to this experience as “getting Fitched”.
FIT:MATCH then integrates this personalized fitch data with the apparel brand’s design data via tech packs for each garment on the platform.
Once fitched, shoppers can immediately experience fit-predictive personalization as they shop their matches. For participating brands, shoppers will only be presented with the clothes that fit them 90% or better, and the rest will be hidden – removing much of the noise and overwhelm associated with apparel shopping.
With FIT:MATCH, apparel shopping embraces the notion that no two bodies are the same, and provides an experience where correspondingly no two shopping experiences will be the same – even from the same brand. “Fit-risk” and all the associated pain, will be eliminated from buying and selling apparel. Shoppers won’t have to try on clothes again to be confident they will fit, and brands will have much richer and more precise data to inform their future designs and plan their inventory going forward. This new data value-exchange between brands and shoppers means that a new growth marketing channel is available. One that is much more targeted based on precise biometrics. So from now on, if a brand is sitting on excess inventory in a certain style/size, they can communicate with exactly those prospective buyers whom the product will fit 90% or better, and not waste a dollar on those for who this product is not relevant.
“We are super excited about what we are bringing to the apparel retail space. While there have been attempts to solve for fit and sizing to date, there hasn’t been a complete solution that takes this valuable data and integrates it into the manufacturer/brand ecosystem like we are offering.This is an incredibly powerful buyer-seller data value exchange” said Haniff Brown, Founder and CEO of FIT:MATCH.
The first FIT:MATCH Studio opened in November 2019 at Houston’s BayBrook Mall. The team is working on aggressive roll-out plans and is being courted by many of the major mall players in the country who are looking to innovative technology-powered experiences to drive traffic and engagement in their malls.
The future of apparel shopping is finally here. Get ready to shop what fits, not what doesn’t when you shop for clothes.