This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Virtual fitting rooms—which leverage the power of technology to allow shoppers to see what clothing, accessories, and makeup looks like on them without physically trying the products on—have made steady progress since their debut about 15 years ago. Demand has certainly accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the technology is now accessible to online and brick-and-mortar retailers of all sizes and industries.
This guide will discuss everything you need to know about virtual fitting rooms, including how they work, how they can benefit you, and how to implement them.
How Do Virtual Fitting Rooms Work?
Virtual fitting rooms (sometimes called online fitting rooms) typically involve virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), or a combination. They allow shoppers to try on products without physically touching the item or even visiting the store.
Did You Know?:
The virtual fitting market was worth $2.97 billion in 2021 and is forecast to grow to more than $8.5 billion by 2028. North America holds the largest market share, making up 36%.
To use a virtual fitting room, a shopper must use a live video feed featuring themselves. They grant access to the camera, and the technology overlays clothing, accessories, and even makeup on top of the uploaded or live image. The camera will make a 360-degree scan of the individual in the frame so that it can accurately place the products in a lifelike manner.
Some fitting rooms use a body scanner. The KinectShop and Magic Mirrors are examples of body scanners, which take an entire scan of the person in lieu of a live video feed. These virtual fitting room experiences are typically in-store as most don’t have body scanners at home.
You may also see radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. A barcode scanner will read the label of an item and then deliver the product to the user in the virtual fitting experience.
Why Retailers Should (Or Shouldn’t) Use Virtual Fitting Rooms
The biggest argument against incorporating virtual fitting rooms in your retail business is budget. Like any new technology or business initiative, virtual fitting rooms cost both time and money. You need to research which platform to use, figure out how to use it, and create a messaging and promotion strategy for both your staff and customers. Not to mention, you will have upfront and ongoing costs associated with the technology.
That said, advancements are continually being made to make this technology more accessible to all kinds of shoppers and businesses. Here are some benefits you stand to gain by incorporating online fitting rooms into your small retail business.
How To Implement Virtual Fitting Rooms
While you might think online fitting rooms are only for big box retailers with equally big budgets, there are many platforms and tools that small business retailers can use to create their own virtual experiences. Here are some to consider:
- 3DLOOK YourFit: The platform creates 3D versions of your apparel products and puts them onto the consumer via a “photorealistic try-on image”—they can activate this from your product pages. You’ll also get information about the shopper to be able to provide size recommendations. Reach out for a custom quote.
- AstraFit: Also for apparel brands, AstraFit includes sizing recommendations, fit descriptions, and Google Analytics integration. Monthly pricing starts at $129.
- Klarna Virtual Shopping (formerly Hero for Shopify): Featuring seamless Shopify integration, Klarna’s virtual fitting rooms work for apparel, accessories, cosmetics, and a variety of other goods. It also includes automated chatbots, live messaging and video calling, and the ability to send prerecorded video. Contact Klarna for pricing information.
- Style.me: Rather than a live video feed, shoppers upload a customer avatar using their basic body measurements and characteristics. Style.me then provides sizing and style recommendations along with 3D renderings of your apparel products. Shoppers can also style whole outfits, trying on more than one product at a time. Reach out to Style.me directly for pricing information.
- YouCam Makeup: YouCam has a Shopify app where merchants can plug in to offer virtual try-ons for cosmetic and beauty products. You can do lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and blush. YouCam Makeup’s monthly pricing starts at $549, with a 14-day free trial.
- Zeekit Fitting Room: Zeekit was acquired by Walmart and provides one of the most nice-to-look-at virtual fitting room experiences. You can integrate the platform with your existing online store. One key difference here is that Zeekit doesn’t use a live video feed; instead, shoppers choose from a variety of models to see what the clothes look like on them. Contact Zeekit for pricing.
- Zugara: This virtual fitting room platform uses Microsoft Kinect to create virtual fitting rooms in your store or at a kiosk at events and markets. Other features include analytics tracking and social sharing. Reach out to Zugara for pricing information.
Other key market players include:
- Magic Mirror
- Fit Analytics
- ELSE Corp
- Coitor It Tech
- Reactive Reality AG
- Shandong Yashe Information Technology
- Fision AG (Zalando)
- True Fit Corporation
Examples of Retailers With Virtual Fitting Rooms
To get inspiration for your own online fitting rooms, it’s helpful to look at some real-world examples.
Women’s house and maternity wear brand Nesting Olive uses Style.me to offer a virtual fitting room experience to online shoppers. Users simply input their height and weight and then select a body type to create their avatar, which they can then dress with Nesting Olive products.
This virtual fitting room also provides sizing recommendations and the ability to edit your avatar at any time. The enhancement to its website boosted user engagement by 228%.
1822 Denim is a jeans brand that was founded on the idea that it can provide the perfect fit for every body, shape, and size. But it also wanted to be hands-off in helping customers find their perfect fit—literally, at least. It sought out virtual options for measuring and sizing shoppers rather than relying on in-person fittings typically seen in a brick-and-mortar environment. The nontraditional denim jean brand aimed to disrupt the industry—and it did.
The brand used 3DLOOK’s YourFit technology to create an online fitting room experience. Using just two uploaded images of the shopper, YourFit would provide personalized size and fit recommendations. As a result, the amount of returns reduced by 30%. 1822 Denim also used data from the virtual fitting rooms to inform manufacturing and forecasting, anonymizing the body data to discover trends.
Luxury makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury is certainly no stranger to virtual fitting rooms. It tested the technology in its London-based flagship store to create an in-person digital experience. Shoppers would stand in front of the brand’s “magic mirror” and browse through a selection of 10 different makeup looks.
It has doubled down on the strategy since then. Now, you can try the virtual experience in-person and online. You can also choose from a larger selection of individual products rather than a whole look.
History of Virtual Fitting Rooms
Many say virtual fitting rooms debuted when Levi’s launched Intellifit in 2006. The clothing brand sponsored a race car and outfitted it with its branding and virtual fitting room technology. People would sit in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, a body scanner would assess their shape and size, and the individual would receive personalized product style and sizing recommendations.
Shortly after, companies started popping up, offering the technology to retailers. Estonia-based startup Fits Me was one of the companies leading the charge; Rakuten acquired it in 2015.
Large tech companies started to get in on the action too. Microsoft launched KinectShop in 2011, and Intel debuted The Magic Mirror shortly after. In 2017, Sephora launched its Virtual Artist app, and many clothing, accessory, and beauty brands have followed—including glasses brands like Warby Parker and Glasses.com and jewelry brands like Jared. Benefit Cosmetics lets shoppers virtually try on different eyebrow styles.
Google has also gotten in on the action, launching an offering that allows users to virtually try on makeup—and both Pinterest and Instagram followed suit. Naturally, Amazon wasn’t going to be left behind, developing its own virtual try-on technology, Outfit-VITON. Walmart also acquired Zeekit, a virtual try-on startup, as it continues to make moves in ecommerce and physical retail. Even Gap made its own investment in the technology through the acquisition of Drapr.
Now, third-party platforms have infiltrated the market, making virtual fitting rooms accessible to retailers of all sizes.
With consumer shopping behavior changing, particularly among younger generations, adding virtual fitting rooms to your offerings is something you should consider. It can help drive sales and create a memorable customer experience. Is 2022 the year for your store to start offering this technology?