Could Virtusize be ASOS's secret weapon?

Virtual fitting rooms have been described as the final frontier in online shopping, we give Virtusize a go and talk shop with its founder

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 23 Oct 2013

ASOS is jealous. True, it’s pretty much nailing it when it comes to weathering the economic storm - while its high street peers scramble against the steady tide of administration, it consistently experiences growth and dominations the online clothing space. But ASOS, along with many other online retailers, are still a bit envious of their bricks-and-mortar peers.

For some time now, ecommerce sites have been battling to create the ‘in-store’ experience, online. ‘Live chat’ functions have been introduced to replicate sales assistants. For example, if you visit email marketing site Mad Mimi, a redheaded cartoon lady (presumably Mimi) asks if you need help. Some stores, such as Japanese Nissen Group, even let you take a virtual tour so you can browse shelves (Apple is reportedly looking into something similar for its online stores). But the top challenge is letting people try things on. Cue virtual dressing rooms.

The need to solve the ‘trying on’ conundrum has brought forth lots of virtual dressing room solutions. There’s Fits.me, which uses robotic mannequins to allow users to see what clothes look like on a particular body shape. There’s also Fitiquette, which lets users create a virtual mannequin by entering their measurements. Virtusize, is another option, which measures a piece of your existing clothing against the new one so you can get an idea how it will fit.

ASOS has been pretty quick off the mark in getting a virtual fitting room onto its shopping platform. Choosing to go with Swedish Virtusize.


Virtusize in action on a tablet

‘Virtual fitting rooms are the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to giving customers an understanding of what they are buying,’ says Peder Stubert, one of its founders.

‘Online retailers have been good at communicating colours and prints with multiple photos and videos but the size and fit component has been missing until now.’

Returns are one of the biggest issues facing online retailers. The inability to try things first has led to return rates of 20-30% on clothing, according to research by consulting firm Kurt Salmon.

This has sparked something of a gold rush to create the perfect virtual dressing room solution, which would allow customers to get a clear idea of how a garment will look on them.

ASOS ran a trial using the Virtusize service on its site earlier this year and after six months, decided to sign a deal with Stubert et al. It joined some 25 other online retailers also using the system including Brit brand, Oasis.

‘Having the Fit Visualiser on the site will have a huge impact on sales and returns,’ says Stubert.

‘We have already lowered returns at ASOS considerably and we expect to be able to do the same with conversions. If people feel more confident with a piece they are likely to buy it.’

ASOS was not available to comment on the fitting service its offering but Stubert is confident it enhances shoppers’ experience on the site.

‘It’s incredibly accurate,’ he says.

VIRTUSIZE IN ACTION

Stubert’s glowing review is no surprise - but is it any good? Well, not one to take things as gospel without trying them first, I had a go.

Firstly I had to find something suitable on ASOS, which had the service attached. Fit Visualiser is only available on the own brand range and not on the entire collection, ‘we’re adding more pieces all the time, and looking to add other brands too,’ explained Stubert. Good stuff.

Once I found something I liked, I saw a little ‘Fit Visualiser’ button next to the colour option drop-down. Away I went.

It’s a nice simple interface and explains what you need to do more than adequately. What do you need to do? Find a tape measure, was my first challenge. I’ll level with you, this was a bit of a problem – I didn’t have one at home so had to grab my favourite dress and take it to work to complete the fitting. Not exactly convenient, but I’d suggest most people would have a measuring implement at home.

Once you’ve typed the measurements in, it shows you exactly how the new item measures against the one you already own. The first dress I tried looked like it would be too tight in comparison with my own, therefore I picked a different one. Result. Looks like ASOS and I both dodged an annoying return.

Once I’d chosen a piece of clothing I was able to save the measurements of the new purchase, so I’ve instantly got more comparisons when I go to shop again. Since this will save me rummaging for a tape measure again, I’m pretty pleased with that.

As a regular online shopper, I have to say, I like the Fit Visualiser service. The stress of finding a measuring tape was fleeting and marginal in comparison with hitting Oxford Street. Other ASOS shoppers too have expressed the same, having taken part in a survey during the six-month trial – 85% of responses were positive.

Could ASOS have found the secret to banishing returns? I doubt it, there’s no substitute for the accuracy of trying something on. But Virtusize’s Fit Visualiser certainly goes a long way to trying

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