The Center for Data Innovation spoke with Billy Pardo, chief product and operations officer of MySize, a company which offers a solution to online retailers that allows consumers to measure objects and bodies using their smartphone. Pardo discussed how shoppers can use MySize to find the right size clothes, thereby reducing returns and improving the shopping experience.
Eline Chivot: What is the main goal of MySize?
Billy Pardo: The idea of MySizeID came from our CEO Ronen Luzon who grew frustrated with the common troubles of online shopping—from size uncertainty to the hassle of returning items that just didn’t fit. I was in charge of the technology and implementation of the solution.
After realizing that size selection for online apparel varies across brands, seasons, and styles, and alarmed at the growing waste and harm to the environment caused by free return shipping, he set out to find a solution that is win-win-win: For the shopper, for the retailer, and for the environment.
Brands using MySizeID increase buyers’ satisfaction and reduce costs for online retailers, giving them a tool that will standardize sizing and help consumers find the sizes that fit them, on any size chart. After implementing MySize on their website, Penti (a lead women’s clothing retailer we work with in Turkey) increased sales three-fold and reduced returns by 50 percent in only three months for apparel items that displayed the MySizeID size recommendation widget.
There are still a lot of obstacles to online shopping for both consumers and retailers—which actually gives room for creativity to improve and optimize the whole process. The main issue is the sizing uncertainty and the returns hassle, that hold back potential customers from shopping online and frustrate those who do. The lack of a unified sizing system, which is accepted and used by all brands, makes it almost impossible to get the right size for different brands—and sometimes even within the same brand. Other side effects those issues lead to are environmental, such as increasing carbon footprint (due to free returns policy) and global waste (due to unnecessary manufacturing).
It is those trends and this frustration that have led to the creation of MySize. We wanted to enable a better way to find the right size every time while shopping online.
Chivot: Which technologies do you use to personalize sizing?
Pardo: We implement AI in our system to provide a comprehensive solution from the body measurement to the personalized size recommendation. In the first step, we collect data from an inertial measurement unit implemented in every smartphone. This unit’s sensors measure the angular rate and the orientation of the body, as the user moves their phone from one side of their body to another. A large amount of collected measurement data is used to train machine learning and deep learning algorithms that automatically learn the patterns and features of the sensors’ data to improve the input data quality and increase the calculation accuracy. Once we have the user’s body parameters, we can use them to make a size recommendation. The size recommendation process is powered by another machine learning algorithm, trained on body characteristics data combined with chosen sizes, thus providing our customers personalized size recommendations based on their body features.
Chivot: Can you give examples of how your system can change consumers’ lives and shopping habits? And how does that benefit retailers?
Pardo: We see that using MySizeID increases confidence among online shoppers, and helps them make the purchase decision much more easily. When consumers know their size, they buy more (because they buy with more confidence) and return less.
Our partner Penti declares that shoppers that use MySizeID are three times more engaged to purchase, and also feel less of a need to return purchased items. We get feedback from users who are surprised and amazed to see how easily they can get the right size without having to purchase the same item in two or three different sizes and return those that don’t fit.
Accurately and successfully matching a brand’s items to a shopper’s personalized measurements using MySizeID can significantly reduce returns and advance the goals of sustainability. Reducing online returns leads to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions which “free returns” usually generate. For instance, we used MySizeID to make size recommendations to the customers of Boyish Jeans, a sustainable women’s denim line, during a two-month pilot. This resulted in a 31 percent reduction in returns.
By implementing MySizeID, retailers can reduce returns by more than 30 percent, leading to an annual global reduction of 1.8M metric tons of CO2 emissions. Using MySizeID can help retailers generate less waste and emissions, increase consumer satisfaction, and decrease online returns—making the fashion industry a little more sustainable. In the future, we hope that our tool can help retailers manufacture for their consumers more precisely and tailor their production better to the demand, for more cost-efficiency and a more environmentally-friendly industry.
On top of the obvious, which is having more satisfied and engaged customers who trust the brands more and can have a better shopping experience, we provide retailers with deeper insights about their customers, from their body shapes to their preferred sizing, and their behavior. This can help retailers make the right decision when designing their collections and enhance personalization. That data wasn’t accessible to them before.
Today there is a big problem of overproduction in retail, as shoppers order at least twice of what they need in order to return what is redundant. Also, retailers design their collection without actually knowing their customers’ body shape or their sizing distribution. They can use the insights of MySizeID’s platform and analytics for every item to integrate them directly with their inventory database, better plan their collection, anticipate their production, and improve their products’ lifecycle.
Chivot: How else can consumers and businesses use your application?
Pardo: In order to meet the demand for both the online and offline consumer experience, we let the user fill in a profile to estimate and get the right size online and offline. For online stores, we developed the MySizeID widget that can be integrated into the store’s online platform, displaying the right size recommendation for individual shoppers, on each product page.
As a complement, this widget can be deployed in brick-and-mortar stores, through what we developed as the “in-store experience.” This feature allows shoppers to scan the garment’s barcode after they create their personalized profile. Alternatively, they can take and record their body measurements themselves using the mobile app, or answer three short questions. They immediately receive a size recommendation for that specific garment, which allows them to purchase directly through the app, and skip the fitting room. This sort of process is very much needed, especially nowadays with the COVID-19 crisis and additional hygiene measures.
We developed the SizeUp mobile app with an algorithm that turns the smartphone into a smart measuring tape, calculating and recording measurements. There are broader applications to other sectors, as this can be used for the do-it-yourself market (to measure furniture and room sizes) and the shipping and parcel delivery market (to measure boxes and pallets), to evaluate the shipping volume and thus its cost, the required vehicle for the pickup, and more.
Chivot: What could accelerate or limit the integration of technology in the fashion industry?
Pardo: Traditionally, the fashion industry is not technology-driven, but instead tends to use drawings (pen and paper), scissors, needles, and thread. Most of its stakeholders are still old-fashioned when it comes to implementing technology. I think this is the main general obstacle.
That said, I do think that there is a lot of room for it, from designing to manufacturing and selling—all to be data-driven and not based on a gut feeling, or on “what is usually done.”
It means that a lot can and will be fed back from the field to the design table, helping designers figure out exactly what their customers’ needs are. And in turn, consumers will be able to see exactly how a garment fits them, and what is the right size. The best driver to accelerate the integration and adoption of technology in the fashion industry is this greater understanding of technology’s amazing benefits.