Close
 

How virtual changing rooms will revolutionise fashion retail

  • News
  • June 2, 2015
  • Barry Moles
How virtual changing rooms will revolutionise fashion retail

Virtual changing rooms have technically been available for a while but so far they have not been generally adopted by retailers. If we are to believe all the hype virtual changing rooms are the silver bullet for fashion retailers and totally revolutionise how we shop for clothes both online and instore. So why the hype?

Virtual changing rooms will reduce costs for fashion retailers

The changing rooms are an area of stock loss and are always a high staffing cost, while online customer return 25 percent of purchased clothing with 70 percent being for the wrong size.

 Why is this technology so important for customers?

Just imagine you are about to go out to a special event and cannot find the right outfit. Today it’s a real challenge, but tomorrow you go to your favorite retailers website try on a number of outfits via their virtual changing room. They will already have your size programmed and you order. Two hours later, yes two hours later, it’s at your home and you are have the outfit you need. This will be fashion retail of tomorrow.

 The technology

Virtual fitting rooms normally create a mannequin so shoppers can see how different sizes may fit their shape, by customers simply entering some basic measurements and a virtual mannequin adjusts to fit their dimensions. The customer then can then dress the mannequin with different sizes, allowing them to see how different garments will fit before making their purchase. There are different technical solutions which is making it far more challenging for retailers to pick one.

 Body scanners: This technology comes in two distinct flavours: scanners that use technologies such as webcams, phone cameras, or Microsoft’s Kinect device and scanners that uses some more sophisticated technologies requiring the shopper to travel to the scanner. Web and phone camera technologies require users to stand a fixed distance away from the camera and to hold a standard-sized object (such as a CD) that the camera can use as a reference for size.
 
The more sophisticated scanners that use laser or millimetre wavedetector technology, or even multiple arrays of Kinect sensors, are too bulky and expensive to be used in most stores and are located instead in shopping malls or in large department stores. Customers are required to visit the location to be scanned and this information may then be used on online sites.

 3D fitting rooms: These use computer-generated 3D images to create an experience similar to that seen in virtual world computer games. These solutions generate a virtual mannequin (avatar) using customer body measurements and shape information. An avatar of the shopper is created, this requires the shopper to measure himself or herself and provide these data. Sometimes the avatar may be personalised: racially, or by skin tone, or by application of pre-determined hairstyles, or even by uploading an image of a customer’s own face. The avatar may then be used to show how the shopper would look wearing the clothing, accessories and any other items on sale. Versions that are more sophisticated allow side-by-side comparison of different versions of a garment, and enable different items to be tried on at the same time.

 3D customer’s model: These solutions allow the shopper to create a 3D version of him or herself using either information taken from scanning devices, by measuring themselves, or by providing other biometric information. The 3D model can also be tweaked to change body shapes. Clothes are then displayed on the 3D avatar, which the customer can personalise by uploading an image of their own face.

 Fitting room with real 3D simulation: Real 3D Simulation fitting room combines the features of 3D solutions and photo-accurate fitting rooms. Using a combination of photo and simple body measurements, the solution generates a 3D mannequin, which accurately visualizes customer in chosen apparel items. Normally, the system suggests an appropriate size for entered measurements, but customer can also choose other sizes to estimate their fit.  

Augmented reality: Most Augmented Reality Virtual Dressing Room solutions work by superimposing the 3D model or picture of a garment or accessory within the live video feed of the customer. The superimposed 3D model or picture of the garment or accessory will then track to movements of the customer so it appears as if the customer is wearing the virtual item in the video view. Augmented Reality Virtual Dressing Rooms usually require a desktop webcam, a smartphone camera or a 3D camera, such as Kinect, to function. An example of Augmented Reality utilised for Virtual Dressing Rooms includes use of a 3D camera to manipulate areas of a garment or accessory within a display.
 
Photo-accurate virtual fitting room: This technology is a convergence of two techniques: using real models and dress-up mannequins. Instead of photographing garments on people similar to customer’s shape and size, images are made using shape-shifting, robotic mannequins. The computer-controlled mannequins quickly morph through a series of body shapes and sizes while garments in each different size are photographed and the image stored in a database together with the measurements that generate the image. Since the mannequins are computer-controlled, the whole process is relatively fast. In the final version, the mannequin is edited out from the photography and replaced with a virtual avatar, which can be changed to reflect the brand involved. Once a customer inputs their measurements into the systems, the image in which the mannequin has the same measurements as the shopper is retrieved from the database and shown to the customer.

Dress-up mannequins/mix-and-match: In this variant, clothes and accessories are photographed on real-life mannequins. The mannequins are then edited out digitally from the images and replaced with a virtual mannequin designed to reflect the brand in question. A shopper may then drag and drop (and mix-and-match) clothes on the virtual mannequin. Some of these solutions are being used to replace the real-life models in the garment photography, reducing the cost associated with human models and standardising the photography processes.

 Real models: Two variants of this exist, with the first of them now common in many online stores. The product information lists the attributes of the model that is pictured wearing the garments, and details the size of the garment in question. Some businesses have gone further, and provide garment images on multiple models in a variety of sizes. Shoppers may watch a video of each model and interactively manipulate the model on the screen; either to walk or turn around, thereby getting a realistic view of what the garment will look like on a real person.

 Virtual dressing rooms summary

Technology is advancing fast and delivering many different options, so it’s clear that technology-based companies believe virtual dressing rooms are worth the investment. Which technology is best is still open to debate, but the best technology does not always determine the winner. It’s a combination of financial investment, marketing, and most importantly - user experience.
 
The failure to adopt this technology will only be acceptable for the discounters and value retailers. The big question for fashion retailers is which one to choose and for this, all fashion retailers would do well to take independent advice.

  Barry Moles is a business consultant at Skyline Business Services, offering independent advice for retailers on strategy, specialising in omnichannel, operations and mobile. He has over 12 years retail consultancy experience and is also a retailer himself. 
 

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 
Sponsored Content

Wages: Don’t get caught sleeping in

The media reports of years of unpaid time for attending team meetings and opening or closing up stores in the retail sector highlights the action ...

 
 
Sponsored content

Batched Espresso: Premium products for the casual

Batched Espresso Martini is the latest product hitting liquor shelves. The pre-mixed cocktail goes far beyond traditional ready-to-drink beverages and introduces a new, premium way, ...

 
 
 
topics
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 

First Aid Pod aims to give privacy to those in need

  • News
  • June 20, 2018
  • Elly Strang
First Aid Pod aims to give privacy to those in need

If you’ve ever been involved in an emergency in a public space, you’ll know that privacy is often desired for both the person under duress and the first aid responder trying to help. Three Dunedin retail workers had seen it happen all too often, so they’ve created the First Aid Pod – a pop-up tent that provides shelter and all the medical gear necessary to deal with such a situation.

Read more
 
 
 
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita@tangiblemedia.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}