For consumers, getting the wrong size when ordering apparel online is a major inconvenience. But for the sites that sell them those clothes, size issues are nothing less than an economic disaster, according to Eli Walles, founder and chairman of MySizeID, an Israeli app that seeks to ensure that online buyers get clothes that fit right.
“As many as 30% of online clothing purchases are returned back to e-retailers, and 70% of those are size-related,” said Walles. “With shipping costs going up – freight costs for the original shipment and its return is usually paid for by the retailer – sellers are hugely motivated to solve the size problem. Our technology does just that, using a smartphone’s sensors to determine body size and shape.”
Using a device’s sensors, said Walles, MySizeID is able to provide accurate measurements for users down to a couple of millimeters – and the app translates that information into size information for specific web retailers, ensuring that when a customer using MySizeID’s technology buys clothing at a website that uses the company’s technology, a perfect fit is virtually guaranteed, he said.
Sizing apps are sort of a holy grail for online apparel retailers – especially given the increasing popularity of web purchases. November saw the largest month-on-month increase in online clothing purchases for UK sites, with a 32% increase in sales over October. Clothing sales during the week of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, climbed 38% over the week before. Black Friday weekend this year was significant for another reason: For the first time ever, online sales in general beat sales in brick-and-mortar stores in the US, according to the National Retail Federation.
Over the 14 or so years these statistics have been tracked, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-retail sales index, there has not been a month in which web sales have not grown over a previous month’s – meaning that online buying is here to stay. With online buying, however, comes the issues of online fitting – and that has proven to be a source of great frustration for both buyers and sellers. Although a size 6 dress should, logic would dictate, fit the same no matter what the style, all size 6’s – and everyone else who has ever bought clothing, online or offline – know that there are wild differences in fit for apparel from different manufacturers.
Whether that’s due to faulty equipment, differing standards of measurement in producing countries, or laziness on the part of manufacturers is, to customers and web retailers, irrelevant; making sure that things fit right the first time is essential for the health of the industry. That’s what counts for clothing websites, said Walles, and MySizeID offers what he says is the most accurate measurement system for sizing – and the most secure system for using that sizing information.
“Nearly all the sizing apps on the market use cameras to determine an individual’s right size,” said Walles – with some enhancing a basic photo using 3D extrapolation and other software enhancements. “The problem with those systems is that the basic data they work from – the photo – can be flawed, as photos are subject to all sorts of light, exposure, metadata, and other issues.”
Instead of the camera, MySizeID’s tech uses a device’s sensors, including its accelerometer, to determine the size of an individual’s waist, neck, chest, etc. “This is our own unique patented process,” said Walles. “The result of our algorithms provides much more accurate information than the camera-based systems.”
Another problem with using images uploaded to a server for analysis is that they may leak out – and if the clothing being measured is lingerie or some other intimate garment, that could spell trouble for the customer. In order to prevent any security problems, MySizeID keeps sizing information about a customer to itself, and instead of uploading it to the e-commerce site, it imports data on what’s available from its commercial clients. When a customer goes shopping on a site, they essentially thumb through a MySizeID-approved catalog, and are matched with the items that fit them properly, regardless of the letter size (S, M, L, etc) or the number size (waist, suit size, dress size, shoe size, etc.).
When a customer makes a buying decision, the action switches to the retailer site, where the order is processed. Thus, customers get the full range of choice of what’s available in their size (regardless of what size a garment “claims” to be), and their personal data remains secure, in the hands of a single, trusted party, and anonymous to other sites. MySizeID gets paid out of the sales made by sites using its technology.
The MySizeID strategy, thus, is not necessarily to court consumers but rather to work with online retailers.
“They are the ones who feel the most pain in this process, so they are very motivated to work with us,” said Walles. “We are already working with a large Spanish fashion company called Trucco, which maintains more than 240 shops in about 20 countries in Europe, China, Asia Pacific, South America, Middle East and Israel,” and MySizeID expects to close numerous deals in 2016.
“We were sitting with an investor recently who said he never had a problem with ordering online,” said Walles, “but a quick poll of other people in the room indicated that he was very much in the minority – and that most of them had sent back items almost as often as they received them because of sizing issues. The pain on both sides – customer and seller – is pretty clear, and so is the MySizeID solution.”