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Like millions of Indians, I shop a lot online, whether for groceries, shoes or even electronics. I buy most of my clothes online, but here I have hit a snag, and that is in sizing. I seem to be in a constant cycle of ordering clothes online and returning them because the fit isn't right. You may wonder why I subject myself to this, and the reason is convenience. Returning a garment is as easy as a few taps on my phone. This may not be a big deal in the US, but in India, returns were unheard of until the first online retailer Flilpkart came on the scene and opened the doors to "no strings" shopping.
The good news is that I may not have to worry about garment size issues for much longer. The prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology, India’s premier university for all disciplines associated with the fashion industry, has launched the India Size Project, a nation-wide survey to get the country’s first size-specific chart. The Project aims to survey 25,000 individuals across the country to come up with the Indian size chart, like you have a US or UK size chart.
You may ask why this exercise merits a mention in a blog about technology – it’s because they are using 3D whole-body scanners to assess sizes. These machines are huge, so the plan is that they will be placed in a common area like a park or mall, even festival venues, for a few days and then moved to another location. The person being scanned will have to wear a body suit and, according to this article, “3D whole-body scanners and computers will extract hundreds of measurements from a scan of a person in a point cloud…”
Indians have taken to shopping online in a big way – the segment is growing at a healthy CAGR of 34%. Amazon India alone posted 100% growth in FY17. Factors like deep discounts, cash on delivery model and easy returns have made Indians embrace online shopping wholeheartedly. (Reports don’t say this, but traffic jams, parking headaches, and throngs at the mall are also factors that make the “virtual shopping mall” attractive, IMO.)
Choosing the right sized garment is one thing, but what about shopping for other kinds of products – like eyeglasses, furniture, makeup, or even a house? While technology is already helping e-tailers and shoppers alike in choosing right the first time, whatever the product may be, it is not surprising that Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences in shopping are becoming more common. These two cutting-edge technologies are making shopping an immersive, multi-sensory experience. From online spectacle stores that allow you to virtually try on frames to real-estate websites where you can search for property by simply moving your phone for 360-degree views, brands are leveraging interactive technology to their benefit.
It goes without saying that AR and VR technologies greatly enrich the customer experience in creative and innovative ways, and Indian brands have been quick to leverage the technology to bring an immersive experience to the customer while reinforcing their brand attributes. Look at these cool examples:
As AR and VR become more mainstream, we can expect to see many more innovative applications to make online shopping a more satisfying experience.
In my case, especially if it is coupled with the size chart.