The Technology of Shopping
The good old days of 2002: computers were the size of a small refrigerator, Britney Spears was on every radio station and low rise jeans were a thing. But despite Tom Cruise’s efforts, you know what was not a thing? The Internet.
Nowadays we take it for granted that we can search for Grumpy Cat videos at 2 am, but imagine that only a decade ago there were only 3 million websites. And probably none of them catered to 21st century cat humour fans.
Few people were ready for the rise of this brilliant medium and they were exactly who you’d expect them to be: soon-to-be technology tycoons, the government and of course the fashion industry. We could make an “on trend” pun but that would be so last season.
Puns aside, the retail industry has been at the forefront of the Internet technology movement. Amazon started as a small book seller but it has grown to be a billion dollar business paving the way for rags-to-ultra-riches visionaries. The window of opportunity for the fashion industry was hard to miss. Online shopping is now a favourite pastime and it would be hard to find a person who hasn’t purchased something on the Internet. The problem is that shopping for books is very different from shopping for clothes. A page is never going to make your hips look big. A font is a one size fits all.
At the moment shopping online is, most often, a trial and error operation that is costing the customer precious time and self-esteem but is also putting a dent in retailers’ bottom line. As an example, Asos CEO Nick Robertson argues that a 1% fall in returns would save the company £10 million per year. This being said, it is no surprise that technology is here to save the day (and the profits) of the fashion industry.
Companies such as Bodi.me use 3D tech in order to give their users size advice and help retailers forget those returns faster than 2002 trends. Registering your measurements is done either manually or with the help of a 3D scan booth just in case you ever wondered what the diameter of your toe is. Since this is not Japan and body scanners are not exactly common scenery (yet), Bodi.me has organized public scan sessions in London and Barcelona in order to promote the technology. Thinking that it’s just some gimmick that will mislead you into ordering from some poor, local fashion retailer hand sewing in their garage? Think again because Bodi.me comes with an impressive catalogue of my-dog-is- more-famous-than-you designers and high-street brands.
“If a shopper were to order the same size in every shoe on the market, she would be wrong on 45% of the order”. This is Shoefitr’s claim and, from personal experience, we can agree. With partner retailers such as Nordstrom and Heels.com, Shoefitr offers its users a more reliable way of shopping for shoes. Using a similar 3D technology, this start-up scans shoes and, with the help of a few easy questions, will provide you some much needed advice when ordering from a new brand.
And because no list would be complete without an App if only to show exactly how far technology has come since the Minority Report days, here is Glashion . Android and iOS are already passé and until the smartwatch takes over, the fashion industry is left to obsess about Google’s little device: Google Glass. Counting Diane von Furstenburg as a fan, it’s no wonder that tech savvy shoppers have gotten around to creating fashion apps for it. Glashion for instance will take that awesome outfit you just snapped a picture of on the street and transform it into a completely shoppable experience.
Summing up, it stands clear that online retailing is not going anywhere. With more and more stores closing down due to the rising costs of managing such an outlet and the customer’s “I want it and I want it now” predisposition, these small companies are bound to hit it big sooner or later. Our bets are on sooner or would be if we hadn’t ordered that skirt.