Renting a wedding dress — and to an extent, shopping for a new tailored suit — can certainly be a stressful experience for consumers as they await their big day. But this tension tends to increase when these purchases are made online without being fitted in a retail location.
Two online-only retailers, wedding gown rental brand Borrowing Magnolia and custom suits and tuxedos seller SnapSuits, implemented the Fashion Metric software from Bold Metrics to gain information about consumers’ body measurements and ease some of this anxiety.
Fashion Metric calculates more than 50 unique body measurements based on a series of proprietary machine learning algorithms. The machine learning technology within the platform is designed to improve retailers’ product recommendations over time.
With Fashion Metric, Borrowing Magnolia saw:
90% fit accuracy overall;
50% improvement in fit accuracy; and
50% improvement in conversions after try-on.
The retailer also increased the efficiency of its merchandising processes, since it can use the platform to match models to dresses that need to be photographed.
“As we’ve done lots of customer discovery during our growth process, we’ve realized that you have to hit the mark with these customers,” said Tyler Ewing, CEO of Borrowing Magnolia in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “There’s just a lot of emotion tied up within this transaction. A lot of the brides-to-be haven’t tried on a wedding dress before, so to have this beautiful garment delivered to their home, fit perfectly and require little-to-no alterations is an extremely valuable experience.”
Shoppers fill out a virtual sizer on the web site, providing only their height, weight, bra size and age. The team then uses Fashion Metric’s algorithms to match dresses with the bride’s requested size, narrowing down from the thousands of options in the brand’s inventory.
With this e-Commerce success, Borrowing Magnolia is taking its first steps into brick-and-mortar retail. The retailer recently opened a warehouse in Bogart, Ga., where shoppers can book hour-long bridal dress fitting appointments. Additionally, the brand will open its first store in Atlanta in Summer 2017.
“We’re leveraging this technology in a new way even for us,” Ewing said. “We create a style profile for these brides before they even arrive. We pull dresses using the Bold Metrics technology and have dresses waiting for these brides. We cut down on our appointment time and jump straight to that experience that brides are wanting, where they narrow down these dresses, they fit them and they look good. Now it’s just to the point of having a stylist there to help them through the decision-making process, which they weren’t getting when they transact online.”
SnapSuits Slices Average Return Rate In Half
SnapSuits also boasts a 90% fit accuracy rate, and has a 13% return rate on the Fashion Metric orders in the 18 months after implementation, a total much lower than the reported standard 30% return rates for apparel and footwear.
Since SnapSuits carries no inventory and operates with a lean overhead, the company needed to implement a solution that would ensure shoppers wouldn’t be returning ill-fitting suits.
“Our first order was placed via an Excel spreadsheet to a tailor shop in China, and we collected body measurements via a PDF that people would use to measure themselves,” said Drew Leahy, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of SnapSuits. “The problem with people measuring themselves is that they aren’t consistent, and we were looking for a technology-powered solution that increased the consistency of the measurements.”
The retailer initially attempted to use 3D body scanning technology that leveraged customers’ web cameras, but despite its high accuracy when used correctly, the customer experience was cumbersome. If lighting and body location weren’t correct during the scanning process, there was a higher chance the suit wouldn’t fit.
After a thorough testing phase, SnapSuits decided to fully integrate Fashion Metric into its Shopify site. The integration process took less than three weeks for SnapSuits’ team of four part-time developers and designers.
The SnapSuits body measurements page prompts shoppers to provide their height, weight, jacket size and pants size, but also gives them the option to fill in other measurements, such as neck, shoulder width, pants length and jacket waist size. The minimal mandatory entries are designed to simplify the process for men who don’t often shop for suits.
“With our demographic, over 75% of our customers own between zero and two suits,” Leahy stated. “This is a lot of first-time suit buyers…a lot of groomsmen in weddings who are excited but are still ordering because they have to. The fact that we’re able to offer a mostly foolproof solution to brides who are worried about their groomsmen is a very big deal for conversions, and it reduces a lot of fear that the fitting process won’t be completed correctly.”