As a Swedish innovation for virtual fitting of clothes is being rolled on the market, now reaching customers also in Southeast Asia, online shopping of garments are seeing much improvement in terms of enhanced sales results and happy customers.
Haven’t we all concluded that there is no such thing as a standard size when it comes to clothes! Just compare a ‘Large’ in Sweden with any country Southeast Asia! This is a struggle when browsing for a size that fits one’s body in the store. Then, take this challenge to even higher heights – as consumers are increasingly buying clothes also online!
But now there is remedy in the form of the award-winning virtual fitting solution Virtusize, which reached Southeast Asian shores in May 2014, when the region’s leading online fashion e-tailer Zalora launched the consumer tool on a large scale in the region.
Virtusize, which has been introduced across the full range of brands and garments sold by Zalora, makes it easier for shoppers to find the right size and fit of clothing before making a purchase, a function called “Fit Visualizer”. Zalora is also launching the new mobile version of Virtusize in the end of July 2015, making it possible for shoppers to use Virtusize while shopping on their Smartphones.
Virtusize lets the online shopper compare garments they want to buy with garments they already own, by overlaying the silhouettes of one onto the other. This 2D garment comparison solution thus illustrates the difference in size and fit of clothes online.
“We give the opportunity to take a garment one already owns and compare that with a garment that one would like to buy,” explains Andreas Olausson, Regional Manager of Asia Pacific at Virtusize to ScandAsia.
“If you have previously bought a product on any of our affiliated web shops we store the data and product image automatically and give you the opportunity to use that item, a product that you already own and know, to compare with products you are interested in buying. And you can also register own favourite garments that you have not bought online but have in your wardrobe back home. In order to do that you measure it manually according to our guide, and add the data into Virtusize, saving it in your virtual closet with us.”
“Normally consumers know their garments and their favourites: they know how these fit and want to buy something similar. Then we allow the user to do that comparison; you can see exactly how it will fit you and precisely any difference between the two,” Andreas elaborates.
This function overcomes the problem that size and fitting are not standardized.
“The brilliant thing with Virtusize is that it makes a direct comparison of two garments and then it matters less what size they are given; you compare garment against garment. So it may fit with an XL in Singapore, but shopping in USA Medium might be enough.”
“Compare with categories of online products that are standardized, for example electronics: you don’t have to worry whether it will work or not. All standardized products sell very well online, while clothes and other things have had it tougher,” the Japan-based Swede describes the market. “And that is where we can add something and really accomplishing the goal of turning clothes into something more standardized online. It would change everything for this category – if you compare with for example consumer electronics, they sell over 60 per cent online. Clothes are only selling about 10 per cent – though it is still a large category online.”
Increased orders, less returns
According to market research from Reportlinker clothing has in fact been the most purchased physical product in recent years in many countries across the Asia-Pacific region, including China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and others.
Clothing is one of the largest segments of the B2C E-Commerce markets worldwide. Clothing rivals closely the consumer electronics category for first rank among product categories by share of online shoppers buying worldwide. Pure online, store-based mass merchants and clothing specialists compete for a share in this booming market.
In terms of customer success in using Virtusize, there are two sides to that, according to Andreas; the consumer’s experience and also commercially.
“We’re getting very good feedback among consumers. About 90 per cent of those–we have performed usability studies across many markets–want to use it repeatedly. And almost the same volume sees Virtusize useful in order to find the right size.60 per cent says it is very useful to find the right size for the clothes.”
In the case of Zalora it has led to less return goods and increased orders.
“We typically see between 20 – 40 per cent order value increase for shoppers using Virtusize compared to those who purchase without using our solution.”
“It has to do mainly with consumers buying more items, including items in their orders that they might previously have been unsure of with regards to size.”
Tokyo base for Asia
In Asia the Swedish innovation was introduced simultaneously at several markets; India and Japan and then Singapore/Southeast Asia (Zalora)
The Swedish company has landed deals with seven of the top 15 online sellers in Japan.
“We’ve had a clear business model from the beginning and it is mostly about gaining traction, a momentum on the market. So we have aimed at the top 20 and especially those who will influence other companies,” says the Swede who was recruited over to the company from Sweden’s export promotion agency in Japan.
“In 2012 I met them for the first time in my role working for Business Sweden in Asia. After discussing where to establish on other markets outside Europe they started working with us in Japan. And along the route we have collaborated, where I helped them as consultant in contacting customers and doing strategies for their Japanese expansion.”
Once a few customers had been established in Japan they wanted a more solid setup there, and with Tokyo as a base for Asian expansion. And then they were looking for a person. Andreas was then offered to run this operation and he accepted the challenge.
In the continued growth plans for 2015 Virtusize will continue their efforts in gaining market share in Japan, aiming at reaching 20 per cent of the market, and also building more clients among Clicks and Mortar brands.