How Tech is Transforming Online Apparel Visualization

Online shopping has transformed the retail space. Whether customers are seeking to refill household essentials or get their hands on the latest gadgets, e-commerce platforms offer increased ease, convenience, and product access for the consumer.

When it comes to apparel, however, shopping in brick-and-mortar stores provides an important benefit – being able to see, touch, and try on the items in real life. With clothing and shoes being a personal choice, a lack of physical interaction can increase buyer doubt and the chance of returns.

In fact, according to Coresight Research, the average return rate of online apparel orders in the U.S. is 24.4%, translating to $38 billion in returns, and an estimated $25.1 billion in processing costs. In Germany, the average return rate is even higher, at 34%. This is a huge cost and revenue leakage for retailers, and intive works closely with its customers in this sector to reduce it.

Online apparel retailers are tasked with accurately conveying their products' quality, color, look, fit, and feel on their product description pages. As technology advances, however, so do capabilities to achieve this, increasing the opportunities to join forces with technology partners such as intive to introduce innovations such as AR, AI, and high-quality photo and video.

Using these technologies, online apparel brands can more precisely portray their garments. In turn, this reduces return rates, drives customer satisfaction, and increases recurring purchases – a win-win all around.

High-Quality Images & Video Drive Purchasing

Without high-quality images, online retailers can say goodbye to meeting their sales targets. High-quality photos are the most important factor driving buying decisions for Etsy customers – even above the cost of the item.

So it’s no surprise that leading brands are leveraging tools that boost the power of product images. 3D visualization, for example, helps users get a better understanding of the fit and look of the item, as they can check the garment from any angle, zoom in to inspect details, and see how it looks in different lights.

Mobile UX should be seamless when interacting with images and also include natural, context-related interactions such as pinch to zoom or swipe. intive supported the leading fashion retailer Esprit in the creation of a digital app, which utilized intuitive UX design and captivating, high-quality images, resulting in a growth in app traffic and conversion rates.

Our research has shown that high-quality videos are also crucial for engagement and should fill the whole screen when being viewed on mobile, TikTok style. This reduces distraction and allows the customer to focus entirely on the product in question.

Increasing engagement results show that brands should be aware of the power of consumer-generated content. Sharing (and incentivizing) customers’ own social media posts that feature products, as well as reviews, is a great way to show the product in the “real world”, generating trust in future buyers that it lives up to the product page’s portrayal. Integrating these complementary aspects into shopping applications can make a significant difference in customer experience, richness of engagement, and purchasing volumes.

Virtual Try-Ons Enable True-to-Life Fitting

Brands are also increasingly integrating virtual try-on features into their product pages so customers can more accurately envision an item on their – or a similar – physical body.

Augmented reality (AR) is central to many of these emerging solutions and retailers are increasingly working with technology partners like intive to enable these innovations for their customers. Using VR and AR technologies to create 2D and 3D visualizations, customers can interact with products and create simulations before developing or selling the physical version.

Some well-known industry examples of this, which are having positive impacts on sales volumes and customer experience, include WEARFITS offering a 3D/AR fitting room, where consumers create a digital mannequin based on their measurements and visualize in 3D how an item would fit them. Wanna brand is using AR to help consumers virtually visualize items. Users just have to open their phone camera in front of a mirror to see how an item would suit them and go with their existing clothes.

Google has also launched its virtual try-on shopping feature, which enables users to see clothes on a wide range of real models, across different skin tones and body types. The tool uses Generative AI to reflect how a clothing item ranging in sizes from XXS to 4XL would look on people of different ethnicities and with different hair types.

AI Powers Product Pages

AI is enabling e-commerce fashion brands to more easily and effectively create product visualizations and descriptions. As a seasoned data expert, intive has successfully leveraged AI algorithms to synthesize behavioral and demographic data of the audience, allowing our customers to better understand user preferences and offer personalized recommendations.

Retailers are using Generative AI to craft detailed product descriptions, as well as generate human-like images of models wearing clothing items. Using GenAI, brands can vary the colors and materials worn by the AI-generated models without investing time and resources into in-person shooting. For example, Pebblely Fashion generates fashion models wearing brands’ fashion tops with only a flatlay image of the shirt.

AI can also help brands create captivating visuals by manipulating media on product pages based on data analytics on what’s resonating with users. For example, Cloudinary is an image and video API platform that helps ecommerce businesses transform and optimize their media assets to make them more engaging and discoverable. Using GenAI, the tool can expand images with matching content, remove items from an image, replace objects and colors, and restore overly compressed images to full quality. The tool also leverages AI to metatag images and videos, create compelling video previews, and automatically crop images according to objects within view.

AI can also power market research, helping retailers analyze market trends and campaign performance and leverage insights to optimize the products they promote. Heuritech is one platform that helps apparel brands forecast market demand and identify key trends, using consumer data collected from social media.

Neurons is also helping ecommerce businesses predict the performance of their campaigns, images, and videos even before launching. While these tools might not be directly related to enhancing product visualization itself, they can help brands uncover which products to promote, and when and how to do so.

Brands Need Accurate Product Data

One key factor in being able to portray products to consumers accurately is the product data itself. Without data on things like exact measurements and materials used, ecommerce websites wouldn’t be able to leverage try-on technologies or GenAI models, for example.

Providing accurate product data to consumers helps brands increase conversions and reduce returns. In addition to displaying all of the sizing, color, and material information in an easily readable way, brands can use data analytics to go one step further. Platforms like Saiz, for example, leverage fashion databases, brands’ product data, and customer input to create accurate recommendations for buyers.

Armed with this data, brands can also implement AI-powered conversational assistants like the one intive created for the Scottish Government – ConnectingYouNow. This kind of advanced tool makes the product-finding process smoother and quicker for users. It leads to increased engagement, satisfaction, and higher sales, providing the feeling of a personalized shopping experience in an online environment.

In 2024, apparel retailers that want to stay ahead of their competition must drill down on enhancing their product visualization. Leveraging innovation is key to product pages that foster trust in users, encouraging sales and preventing returns down the line.

Interested in how intive can help you integrate cutting-edge technologies to drive increased customer satisfaction and higher sales? Get in touch today.

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