Size and fit are two of the leading reasons for online returns, according to e-commerce software company Narvar Inc., translating to costs that further reduce retailers’ already slim profit margins. From 3D body-scanning apps like MTailer and My Size, to startup Shima Seiki’s machines that knit garments with less than 1% variation, a plethora of companies has recently emerged to combat the issue of inconsistent sizing. Women’s sizes in the U.S. range from 00 to 18, yet there are no standardized body metrics across these sizes. This type of variation is not represented in online sizing guides, and few explain the stretch or texture of the fabric, which may also affect fit. Solutions like those offered by True Fit Corp.—which uses a data platform and AI-driven personalized recommendation engine to help consumers find their right size and taste-tailored items—are growing in demand from major retailers. Others, like RedThread, use 3D mobile body-scanning and tailoring algorithms to best determine fit.
Why it’s important:
Some executives, like Levi Strauss & Co.’s CEO Chip Bergh, believe sizes will become obsolete in the next decade. Smartphone-conducted body scans will offer precise measurements that automatically populate online retail platforms. From there, fits can be matched with existing designs or tailored with programmed sewing machines. Offering an even more personalized fit, 3D-printed garments are also on the rise, changing the economics of mass manufacturing. As retail sales continue to migrate to online platforms, virtual try-on software is slated to decimate returns—now a major pain point for both retailers and consumers. Yet the convergence of these technologies will not only cut costs, but will also dramatically reduce the environmental toll of shipping, packaging, and textile waste.