Shopping for clothes online has become a popular commodity, especially with a fragmented market such as Europe. ECommerce continues to grow in Europe, but as online sales grow, so does the online return rate.
Many online shoppers will admit that it is nearly impossible to guess how a garment will fit them from only looking at the product on a website.
However, startup companies, such as Virtusize, have made it their business to close the gap between online shoppers and their garment guessing games.
Virtusize, based in Stockholm, has created an online fitting room that aims to help consumers determine how online garments will fit them. PYMNTS.com sat down with Peder Stubert, co-found at Virtusize, to find out how Virtusize is helping eCommerce in Europe and what makes them different from other competitors in the market.
Tell PYMNTS.com a little bit about yourself Mr. Stubert, Virtusize and its current accomplishments.
Virtusize is a virtual fitting solution available at leading online apparel retailers worldwide. Virtusize’s goal is to give consumers a simple, intuitive and accurate illustration of size and fit of the clothes they are looking to buy online.
By taking away the insecurity around size and fit for online shoppers, Virtusize helps retailers to reduce returns, increase sales, improve the shopping experience and create a loyal customer base.
Four friends and myself founded Virtusize in 2011. We all shared the same frustration of constantly having to return great clothes because the size was wrong or the fit was not what we expected.
Today, after 2 years of hard work, Virtusize is the number one virtual fitting solutions - being available on more than 30,000 styles at 23 online retailers, including market leaders such as ASOS, Nelly and Stylebop.
Your system is quite different from other online fitting room businesses. How did you get the idea for the silhouette-like comparison?
We were inspired by sellers at eBay and certain progressive online retailers that provided the exact garment measurements online. This enabled us to compare these measurements with the measurements of a similar garment at home.
However, just dealing with numbers is cumbersome and not very intuitive. We felt that we could build on this concept and make it more useful by offering a visual presentation of the garments. That’s how we came up with the idea of overlaying garment silhouettes.
When showing a mock-up of our 2-dimensional solution to pattern makers and other experts in the textile industry, everyone confirmed that comparing garments to garments (rather than mixing garment and body dimensions) was the most accurate approach to illustrate size and fit online.
Virtusize has plans to enter other markets, such as the United States. Is it difficult to enter into new markets, and what are some of the challenges or differences that come with new entrances?
The challenges are less linked to different markets and more linked to specific retailers and how far they have progressed with their eCommerce efforts.
Even if Virtusize is simple to integrate and really doesn’t require that much resources, some retailers are hesitant to get started until the timing is right for them from an organizational perspective. In some markets (e.g. UK and Japan) a lot of the online retailers are very advanced and are thus keen to get started with a service such as Virtusize.
Having this said, the United States is definitely a market that is very advanced and somewhere we aim to launch soon.
Tell PYMNTS.com about your new partnership with ASOS in the UK?
We had been in dialogue with ASOS for quite some time when we launched our official trial in the autumn of 2012. After six months of testing and evaluating we signed a full partnership in April this year.
The trial results were overwhelmingly positive with a significant reduce in returns, uplift in sales and fantastic feedback from ASOS shoppers! ASOS customers responded, at their own initiative, to a survey with over 90% saying that Virtusize helped them to decide which size to choose.
What are some of Virtusize's future goals, and how can we expect to see your company grow?
Our long-term goal is to be the standard solution for illustrating size and fit for clothes sold online - like a PayPal for size and fit.
We are working hard to integrate Virtusize deeper into different technologies and systems that our clients use, which will enable us to offer even more exciting features, for both the retailers and for the online shoppers.
There was a recent report released from the European Ecommerce, and it reported Europe had the largest global market share for eCommerce. Why do you think the online market is so successful in Europe and what does Virtusize think is the key to driving and increasing online shopping in the future?
I think the main drivers for shopping online from a consumer perspective are: 1) not restricted by opening hours and 2) not restricted by geography.
Europe is a fragmented market with a lot of different countries. Shopping clothes online gives consumers the possibility to buy from retailers and brands that might not be available in physical stores in their own country or town.
I also think that Europe had a few pure play online retailers that already 10 years ago were crucial for creating the market. For example both ASOS and Net-a-Porter are considered, by a lot of people, to be among the first to prove that clothes can be sold just as well online as in “brick and mortar” stores. I think this has had a positive impact on the whole region.