INNOVATION

The Technology Behind Buying Clothes Online That Will Actually Fit

A new tech platform makes sure that you buy garments that perfectly fit your body shape.

19/08/2017 5:11 AM AEST | Updated 20/08/2017 2:56 PM AEST

While shopping online is wonderfully convenient, when you're buying clothes, it's often a guessing game -- will the size 12 actually fit? Or will you be stuck with yet another dud you'll need to return? What happens is some of us will go to the expense of buying two or three different sizes, just to be sure. Or we'll buy one size, realise it doesn't fit and send it back.

Studies show up to 40 percent of online clothing purchases are returned, and the main reason is an incorrect fit.

The problem is there's no global industry standard across sizing, leaving customers to guess their size and hope that when their clothing arrives, they fit.

The Australian Council of Textile and Fashion has launched a campaign to develop an Australian sizing standard, calling on the industry to support their bid to address the lack of clothing size standards for men and women.

The campaign is supported by two Melbourne women who've found an innovative way to make life easier for e-tailers and customers. Penny Whitelaw and Nicola Byrne created tech platform, To Me Love Me, that makes sure you purchase clothes that actually fit you.

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The Australian Council of Textile and Fashion has launched a campaign to develop an Australian sizing standard.

Both women were experiencing problems with clothing sizes when shopping online and were curious to understand how their behaviours (returning badly-fitting clothes) were impacting e-tailers' bottom-lines.

"I was dedicated online shopper but, although I followed the online sizing guides, my purchases were arriving too large or too small and the online experience was at best, generic. What should have been a fun experience was ultimately causing endless disappointments and subsequent returns," Whitelaw said.

"So we started talking with online shoppers, e-tailers, manufactures and influencers to better understand their challenges and came up with tech solutions to address the problem. We found most first time buyers experiencing a return, never visit that online shop again," Whitelaw said.

They spent time creating and perfecting the technology, which works by taking all the elements of the garment make-up into account and giving people a perfect fit based on their body shape and size.

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Shopping for clothes online can be frustrating when the clothes arrive and they're too big or too small.

"So, instead of trying to work out your size across an array of garments, our tech will say 'In these jean's you're a size 10, in this top a size eight, in this jacket size 38'. That way you can shop with confidence and even explore the brands that you may have been reluctant to try before."

The tech platform works by enabling a customer to insert their measurements (centimetres or inches, based on their country) which are ingested, along with the e-tailers product data.

"This is where data science and the algorithms expert rules come into play, matching the customers data with the e-tailers data to provide the most accurate fit," Whitelaw said.

"We integrate our technology into an e-tailers platform, so it looks, sounds and feels like their brand and we are simply working our magic in the background. This means that the customer experience is specific to the brand and is customisable, based on what this particular brand wants to achieve."

To Me Love Me
Nicole Byrne and Penny Whitelaw after winning the recent StartupVic eCommerce Pitch Night.

Whitelaw and Byrne recently won the award at the StartupVic eCommerce Pitch Night and they're focused on working with Australian brands in the local market so sizing is based on Australian sizes.

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