The Fashion Logistics of "The Dressing Room Factor"

Here's a cool innovation that could help apparel companies overcome one of the few drawbacks of shopping for clothes online:

A company called Dressformer is helping pioneer what it calls "3D online fitting" — a more advanced way of making sure that shoppers get the size and fit they need, even without actually trying on what they're considering buying. According to Apparel:

The technology behind Dressformer's 3D fitting technique is engineered to be simple enough for retailers to use with ease, but sophisticated enough to produce a realistic impression for the customer. Retailers only need a digital camera, an Indresser (a graphically-labeled special surface supplied by Dressformer), and access to the Dressformer web plug-in. Retailers take two photos of a garment on the Indresser, then upload the photos to Dressformer's system.

The system takes into account the dimensions of the garment and the physics of the garment's fabric. When a customer wants to "try on" the garment while shopping online, they are prompted to enter their measurements (or have their measurements taken automatically via webcam) in order to create a 3D avatar of themselves with the correct physical dimensions.

The avatar then models the clothing or shoes, realistically reflecting the size, color, and style of the selection. Professional feedback is available online for the customer, and they also have the option of posting images of their avatar model in an application on Facebook or VKontakte to solicit feedback from their friends.

In an age when big box retailers like Best Buy and Barnes & Noble are finding it impossible to compete with e-commerce, one of the reasons why in-store apparel will never completely go the way of top hat is the dressing room. While there are few benefits to shopping for, say, music or books in a brick-and-mortar stores, fashion is different. And it seems like it always will be. No matter how quick and easy shipping becomes, and no matter how sophisticated online apparel companies become at helping their customers pick out well-fitting clothes, it will never be the same as actual taking a good look at yourself in those pants in a big, well-lit mirror.

Still, innovations like Dressformer's system show how technology can overcome certain limitations to various types of shopping experiences and introduce substantial shifts in consumer habits and tastes, thus changing fashion logistics demands placed on apparel companies as well.

Simply put, apparel companies need to be ready to step up to unexpected changes in the way the industry is run. If a new technology like Dressformer's leads to a (to pull a number out of thin air) 3 percent increase in apparel e-commerce at the expense of brick-and-mortar, even that relatively small shift can have major impacts on the apparel supply chain management strategies of even the best-run apparel companies. Flexibility and agility are key. The Apparel Logistic Group's fashion 3PL services can help.

Posted: 8/1/2013 2:00:48 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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