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There are people who love to shop for clothes and people who just don’t. And even the devotees can get drained from the fitting-room aspect of shopping on occasion. Thought you were a size 6? Maybe in one brand or style you are, but in another you aren’t. And with limits to how many items you can bring in with you, this can get exhausting quickly. Retailers too can find the hunt for the right size a real headache: in wasted salesclerk time, those cluttered dressing rooms, and—worst of all—the dreaded returns.
That’s why companies are creating cutting-edge AI retail solutions for a more enhanced and much more personalized shopping experience, and one of them was featured at this year’s Intel® Innovation 2023 conference. Hillary Littleton, Head of Marketing at the AI-based retail solutions provider FIT:MATCH, joins us to talk about the AI-enhanced shopping experience and the benefits it holds out for shoppers and for retailers. Because there may be no one-size-fits-all, but AI might just be able to reveal the one size that fits you (Video 1).
What is FIT:MATCH? And how does it work to create personalized recommendations for shoppers?
Earlier this year, FIT:MATCH debuted its newest in-store fitting-room experience for apparel retailers, called Fit Concierge. It gives shoppers the opportunity to be scanned in an in-store fitting room using Intel® RealSense™ LiDAR technology and Intel OpenVINO™. Using those LiDAR sensors, we create a scan in just one second, and then that data is matched back to an avatar in our extensive database that has already tried on the garments.
After their scans, the appropriate sizes just appear for shoppers, which is different from what you see in other fit tech in the industry. The entire in-store process takes 10 to 15 seconds, and the shopper gets their exact size on the spot across the retailer’s entire assortment. We can tell them not just what size they are, but also why that’s the right size for them and what they should do with that information going forward.
The process takes all the equating between scan data and brand sizes off the shoppers’ hands—and also off the brands themselves. And we don’t ask shoppers for their measurements—most people don’t know how to take their measurements correctly—we use a 3D scan, because we know that a 3D problem can be solved only by a 3D solution.
Fit preference is also something built into our technology, and we’re learning more as more consumers tell us how they like things to fit—tight or baggy or however—and then we can give back recommendations based on those preferences. The shopper can even see the item on a 3D model. So, on top of being really easy and fun, shoppers are getting this portal into data about themselves. And we’re finding that they absolutely love that. The first retailer to incorporate our concierge solution was Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty.
“#AI is really at the core of our platform. It powers our ability to interpret and leverage the #3D-shape information captured using the Intel sensors” — Hillary Littleton, @FitMatchAI via @insightdottech
What are common challenges that FIT:MATCH can help retailers solve?
There are three specific challenges that I hear about continuously from retailers. Number one is customer retention, along with drop-off rates when customers don’t know what size to buy, or their size is sold out. That results in higher churn rate, lack of loyalty, and just an unsatisfied shopper. Number two is leftover inventory due to poor buying, planning, or merchandising decisions on the part of the business. And then number three: returns.
Retailers crave products that are seamless to integrate but also lead them to achieve important KPIs for their businesses. What we learned from the Intel Innovation conference is that the need for the technology spans all sorts of customer demographics; it’s really a universal problem. Everyone knows that AI solutions are a hot commodity right now, but I think gaining access to the right solutions is the difficult part. Our tech is revolutionary and immersive for shoppers, but it’s impacting our brand partners’ bottom lines in a big way as well.
With the FIT:MATCH technology, retailers can better service their customers. That’s the beauty of it: They know what the shopper really wants and what is going to fit them, so they’re able to offer an elevated shopping experience. Then the consumer is more satisfied, which then reflects well on the brand.
What are the benefits of providing such an innovative and customized fitting experience?
We’ve seen incredible benefits for our brand partners, including an average 6x conversion rate for those that scan with FIT:MATCH versus those that aren’t, and 20% to 30% higher average order values. And those that scan are returning 80% less merchandise than those that aren’t. Also—this is a big one—fewer than 1% of consumers buy more than one size: “bracket shopping,” as it’s called in the retail space. There’s a lot of fit risk, particularly online, and retailers tell us that bracket shopping is the number-one concern they have, so it’s great to see that it’s now below 1%.
When it comes to loyalty, there’s a 2x sign-up rate to be part of a loyalty program for those shoppers who have scanned versus those who haven’t. And overall customer satisfaction has increased by 16 points on average. We’re really proud of those results.
There are also things that we can build out with brand partners going forward. That includes more insight into their consumers, with a data dashboard that we can customize and serve up to brand partners according to their preferences. That way they can make more personalized marketing and merchandising decisions and foster long-term loyalty. And that can help with product construction and with inventory management. Just getting rid of excess inventory is a huge pain point, we’ve heard. So we’re excited to tackle that as well.
What technology drives creation of the 3D model and personalized recommendations?
We’re leaning into the effects of how AI can optimize the shopping experience. Tools like this, integrated with a seamless checkout experience on e-commerce, are crucial elements for the consumer journey.
And AI is really at the core of our platform. It powers our ability to interpret and leverage the 3D-shape information captured using the Intel sensors. Intel edge computing has been so instrumental in the way we scale, and it really enhances the user experience. It’s private, it’s quick, but it’s also more cost-effective. And the OpenVINO technology really stands out as a prime example of that. We see immense value in it, and we’re dedicated to integrating it into more of our product offerings going forward.
What’s next for FIT:MATCH?
We’re rolling out the next iteration of the Fit Concierge at a popular shopping center in Los Angeles this holiday season. This new version is faster and even more accurate, with extra layers of privacy. We’re also partnering with a multibillion-dollar apparel and footwear brand in the sportswear space. And the entire experience will be accelerated by the Intel suite of products.
Our future plans are definitely focused on bringing everyone the ability to scan using their own mobile phones. With one scan, shoppers will be able to unlock a passport of sorts that will offer up recommendations in their sizes across brands. So no matter if they scan in-store or at home, their personalized shape profile will be accessible from anywhere.
We have also recently expanded into the healthcare and wellness sector, launching a scanning experience exclusively built for plastic surgeons and their patients who are going through body transformations. We’re super excited to see how our shape-matching technology can impact other use cases outside of fashion retail.
To learn more about personalized AI shopping experiences, listen to our podcast Personalized AI Shopping Experiences: With FIT:MATCH and read Phygital Experiences Help Fashion Retail Shine. For the latest innovations from FIT:MATCH, follow them on Twitter at FIT:MATCH.ai and LinkedIn at FIT:MATCH.ai.
This article was edited by Erin Noble, copy editor.