E-commerce truisms: No sacred cows here…

To this point, I have always been skeptical that clothes, particularly fashion, could be sold online successfully. When I worked with emerging web based technology companies back in the late 90’s and up through the dot.com bubble, it was a commonly held belief that we would likely never see this become a viable e-commerce market. Fashion was seen as something that needed to be experienced in person, and was a very sensory experience very specific to individuals.


But we successfully sold books, then learned about electronics, cars and real estate, and are now learning about the products where perception is a major component of reality.

Initially, some online fashion retailers have sought to overcome the consumer’s resistance with generous return policies, and where possible, tying in their brick ‘n mortar locations for accepting returns. This practice has moved the line to some extent, but more often than not has led to purchase churn: Initial significant over purchases and then subsequent item returns among the highly fashion conscious effectively emulating an in-store shopping experience in their homes.

But this is not the only option open for retailers and e-tailers to pursue today. There are numerous technology applications available today to model clothes virtually that utilize a variety of executional directions (avatars, photos, etc). One of the coolest I have seen is marketed by fits.me.

This company has taken the approach of pre-constructing models of all shapes and sizes to generate a foundation of “inventory” for the program. Consumers can then further alter these models based on their own measurements and choices about body type. Additionally, there is an option to view the same clothes on that model in various sizes and tailoring options.

People who know me understand that this is something I will never personally care to experiment with, but the business advancement model part of me just finds this to be amazing. It’s like they have brought Disney animation magic to every day online retail. I will be curious as to how far this can go, and what other applications for e-commerce this can provide. What do you think?


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