New body-scanning technology has the potential to close the gap between brick-and-mortar and online retail by allowing consumers to take detailed body measurements to use when buying clothing online.
Bodymetrics works by using 3D sensors to capture your body's measurements. By combining that data with the measurements of an article of clothing, consumers can virtually try a garment on to see if the fit will be too tight, too loose, or, as Goldilocks would say, just right (with an accuracy claim of 90 percent).
Bodymetrics technology has the potential to speed up sales in brick-and-mortar stores and reduce returns for online purchases.
The 3D technology, originally developed for gaming by PrimeSense is incorporated into a “Pod” that can take a full body scan in just five seconds and then analyze the data for size and shape.
Bodymetrics launched in the UK at the end of 2011 at the Westfield Stratford location of New Look.
Watch a demonstration of a customer using the technology to select a pair of jeans:
Bodymetrics @ Westfield, Stratford London from Bodymetrics Ltd. on Vimeo.
Bodymetrics made an exclusive partnership with Bloomingdale’s for its American retail debut. It appeared in Century City, Los Angeles for “Denim Days” March 15-18. Prior to this, Bodymetrics appeared in the US in Las Vegas at The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
While Bodymetrics is not the first to introduce body scanning for fit, the earlier versions were too expensive to appeal to retailers. Bodymetrics is looking to bring the price down low enough for individuals to have the devices at home. It plans a $150 device that can work with connected TVs.
Having the scan system at home would enable customers to shop online with selections that fit better, reducing the return rate, and then buy using the same device. Here's how that might look:
Bodymetrics in the Living Room from Bodymetrics Ltd. on Vimeo.
The technology allows consumers to store and access their body information online and link it to retailers, which allows more personalized fit and service, company CEO Suran Goonatilake told Forbes. Consumers would also be able to share fitting experiences on Facebook and other social media, she said.
Now that might be a bit too much sharing. But if the technology helps people find clothes with the fit they want, it would be a major boon to retailers. Brick-and-mortar stores can make sales faster by reducing the amount of time customers need to spend finding clothes that fit.
And the technology would be a big benefit for online retailers as well: Consumers return 20 percent to 40 percent of online purchases. The cost of the return goes beyond the loss of a sale. Free return shipping is standard for online sellers like Zappos and LL Bean, not just because they pride themselves on service, but because they know that without that assurance many customers would not order online at all.
If customers can anticipate fit better, they may order more, even without free returns, and that would be a real boon for clothing sales on the Web. For many retailers, that would make Bodymetrics technology a good fit.
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— Ariella Brown is a writer, editor, Web content developer, and social media coordinator.