Are Virtual Fitting Rooms Here to Stay?
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the fashion industry in a number of ways. For example, consider the virtual fitting room. Though the technology has been around for many years, virtual fitting rooms have finally come into their own thanks to more online shopping and brick-and-mortar boutiques closing their physical fitting rooms.
Virtual fitting rooms are serving a vital role right now. The question is whether or not they stick around on the other side of coronavirus. That remains to be seen. There is plenty of evidence suggesting they will still be used online. On the other hand, common sense suggests they will go by the wayside in brick-and-mortar boutiques.
How Virtual Fitting Rooms Work
If you are not familiar with the virtual fitting room, it is essentially a software simulation of you trying on clothing. Using one in an online setting requires taking a photograph of yourself and uploading it to the retailer’s website. The photo has to be clear, clean, and taken in adequate lighting so that software can analyze your size and shape.
With photo uploaded and analyzed, you can select various items of clothing and digitally ‘dress’ yourself. You get to see exactly how a piece of clothing would look on you. As an added benefit, the software can recommend the appropriate size based on an analysis of your photo.
In a brick-and-mortar setting, you do not have to upload a photo. Rather, you stand in front of a full-length machine equipped with a video camera that captures your image. Everything else works the same way.
Reducing Coronavirus Risks
The folks at The Stockist, a Salt Lake City men’s and women’s boutiques, say that virtual fitting rooms make a lot of sense for reducing coronavirus risks. Retail fitting rooms make for a risky environment if they are not constantly disinfected. But rather than trying to keep up, boutiques and clothing stores have simply closed their fitting rooms.
A virtual fitting room keeps customers happy without saddling store owners with additional work and liabilities. Customers can try on clothing without having to actually touch it or go into a physical fitting room.
Having said all that, virtual fitting rooms are not perfect. No camera and software package can accommodate all of the nuances of the human body. Even something that looks good on the screen might not fit once you get it home. Thus, it is hard to imagine that virtual fitting rooms will stick around in brick-and-mortar boutiques.
Reducing Return Rates
Virtual fitting rooms in the online environment will probably stick around simply because they are better than nothing. Without them, customers are left to the trial and error approach. They order something they think they like in a size they think is appropriate. However, they will not really know until they can try the item on.
A recent Business Insider report suggests that online virtual fitting rooms can reduce return rates by as much as 36%. That makes sense. Software capable of analyzing a customer’s body can recommend the appropriate size better than a customer guessing. Eliminating wrong sizes reduces return rates across the board.
The other thing virtual fitting room software does is give customers an idea of what a particular piece of clothing will look like on them. It is not perfect, but again, a virtual fitting room can eliminate those pieces of clothing that obviously look terrible on the screen. Customers will not even bother ordering said items.
Virtual fitting rooms are now part of the retail clothing industry. Will they stick around after the pandemic? Online, yes. At brick-and-mortar boutiques, probably not.