Digital content creation has finally had its day as it becomes the primary mode of brand interaction. Retail players need to establish a strategic model that prioritises digital growth with cutting-edge customer experience.
Clothing brands must find innovative ways to offer value and rethink their business strategies, such as by reducing stock and increasing the value proposition of their products, and creating products only of the size that the market demands. Many businesses have seen what it takes to be truly digital-first, and this change in consumer adoption is likely to persist even after the crisis. The global fashion industry’s dependence on digital avenues has grown faster than anyone could have anticipated to happen in the next several years.
AI, AR and 3D for fashion were never widely accepted in India, but now with social distancing becoming a major concern, Bigthinx allows consumers to try on virtual clothing, create digital photoshoots, as well as assist them in organising virtual fashion shows. However, before starting the expansion, retailers should get prepared for the biggest challenges that they can foresee in their business.
“To improve the business models, this is a perfect time for retailers to introduce digital products as part of their business models. Such digital enablers will receive a much greater audience while consumers are locked down, and will also set the stage for retailers to develop long-term improvements for cutting unnecessary costs and boosting sales. Demand for new retail technologies from the consumer’s side is something that retailers should be prepared to supply,” told Chandralika Hazarika, Co-Founder, Bigthinx, adding that technologies like AR and 3D can help brands sell more, while lowering costs and leaving consumers happier, which is the need of the hour for retailers affected by the pandemic. “This will not only enable normalcy post-pandemic but also significant improvements as compared to the pre-pandemic stage,” mentioned Chandralika.
Due to shopping restrictions, consumers adopt new ways of shopping using technology. While the younger generation is quicker to embrace new technology, older generations are also starting to see online shopping as a viable option now. But online return has been a huge challenge for the retailers, which is majorly because of the fit and look of the garment. Moreover, the high return rate is a huge cost for the retailers in terms of logistics.
“In online shopping, almost 35 per cent of products are returned. Out of which, 60 per cent is primarily because of the wrong size and another 30 per cent is because of the wrong look of the garment that together makes around 90 per cent of the returns. We are trying to encounter the issue through our sizing technology,” said Shivang Desai, Co-Founder, Bigthinx. “Sustainability will also see a greatly increased focus from retailers in the world’s second highest natural resource consuming industry. Reducing returns will now play a very important role in e-commerce,” added Desai who also heads their tech team.
The startup offers two solutions for the retailers – LYFLIKE and LYFSIZE. The LYFSIZE technology provides detailed size recommendations to consumers based on their body measurements. LYFLIKE is the premium product that also provides a personalised virtual avatar of the consumers and automated digital clothing generation from photos. What makes the solution different from the ones that are available in the market is that beside size recommendation and avatar creation, the software can duplicate any garment picture available online in 3D and that can be tried on the virtual avatar. “If you take a picture of any piece of clothing online and pass it to the system, it will auto detect what kind of clothing is in the picture, its attributes like sleeves, neck, fabrics, etc., and recreate it virtually exactly like that picture. You can try this dress on your virtual avatar to see how it will look on you. You will also be able to size it up and down to choose the best fit for you,” said Shivang.
Due to the increasing demand from brands in these tough times, Bigthinx has ventured into digital models and virtual photoshoots, enabling brands to shoot catalogues and organise virtual runway shows completely digitally and at a fraction of the cost of real events, enabling them to reach wholesalers and distributors completely digitally.
Bigthinx’s solutions have already been helping retailers improve upon some aspects of their business that are sources of losses. The company’s LYFSIZE software, which carries out a 3D body scan with just a smartphone, can be used to find out one’s clothing size in any brand, anywhere in the world. “60 per cent of e-commerce returns are due to incorrect sizing, and this can be brought down significantly with our solution, enabling massive cost savings for online retailers. The USP of our company is that we are not only accurate but consistently accurate. There are a lot of companies who are not consistent in terms of their accuracy,” commented Shivang.
Other application of LYFSIZE software includes modelling, where the models can scan themselves for their measurements and can have clothing customised for them ahead of time. Also suitable for workwear and uniforms for military, aviation and other industries, the software enables saving time and labour by providing tailor-ready measurements instantly with just smartphone photos. The technology also enables mass customisation of clothing by enabling brands to customise production according to their audience.
The technology is a software as a service (SaaS) based solution that is integrated into the existing website or mobile application of the retailers. The retailers are charged with a one-time set-up cost and a recurring monthly fee which is based on the number of scans. “This is a fixed recurring fee which has various tiers, the retailers can choose the tier and if they want to exceed it, they can.” explained Shivang.
The start-up was selected by Startupbootcamp (SBC), a start-up accelerator programme in collaboration with Prada Group. The company is also recognised as one of the top 10 fashion tech start-ups globally and is the only one from India to be among the 1,200 plus entries. The company is presently backed by Prada Group and working with leading fashion and retail brands globally.
During the COVID-19 crisis, retailers are not able to carry out photoshoots and fashion shows. For many retailers, this inability has been a huge setback, as runway shows and product shoots are necessary for them to showcase collections to distributors, wholesalers and customers worldwide, who are unable to travel at this time. Traditionally, such customers travel for fashion weeks from all over the world where they experience the designs of fashion houses on the ramp and place bulk orders thereafter. In order to help such retailers, Bigthinx has adapted its LYFLIKE avatar technology to create digital fashion models which brands, especially in luxury fashion, can use for completely virtual photoshoots and runway shows; all for a fraction of the cost of traditional practices, and with far greater opportunity for creativity and flexibility. These shows are recorded as videos which can be displayed over the internet and allow the brands to conduct business uninterrupted. This enables brands to shoot catalogues and organise virtual runway shows completely digitally, enabling them to reach wholesalers and distributors across the world.
Besides online, Bigthinx’s products can also be used offline on touchscreen or tablets installed in stores. The customers in the stores can scan themselves for accurate measurements and their virtual avatars will be created within no time upon which they can try on clothes. “For innovations to stick, brands need to strategically anchor them in their business plans going forward. Fashion players need to identify, prioritise and scale up innovations that worked for them during the crisis, and implement an agile and speedy approach to implementation. The crisis has presented the fashion industry with a chance to completely reshape the industry’s value chain,” concluded Chandralika.
The company is now expanding into Europe and the USA, as it believes that certain Western countries are better placed to become early adopters of their technology at this time, after which they will follow on with expansion in Asia and other global markets.