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Nov 16, 2020
The Future of AR-Enabled 3D Scanning in Fashion Retail November 16, 2020 at 8:04 AM EST By Charles Carriere, Scandy Share on email Google’s recent acquisition of smart glasses company North set off a wave of speculation in the tech community. Why, some wondered, would the company that made the most infamous augmented reality (AR) eyewear on earth — Google Glass — take an interest in a relatively unknown Canadian startup? The reason is simple: AR is now on the precipice of changing more than just the tech industry. The increased speed, accuracy and usability of AR applications compared to 10 or even five years ago has opened up new opportunities for developers and users alike. While wearable tech developed by Google, Apple and others is still in development, sensors used in modern iPhones have already brought usable tech into consumers’ pockets. Combined with 3D scanning, AR has the potential to open up new avenues for ecommerce retailers. In short, the AR revolution is in the midst of taking its next great step forward. For ecommerce retailers — particularly those in the fashion sector — this represents a massive opportunity to heighten sales, lower returns and offer customers a new way to shop online. The Problem With Fashion Etail Fashion comprises the largest segment ofecommerce retail, with a market size of over $500 billion in 2019. While online shoppingfor clothing is nothing new, the sheer number of brands, styles and influencersworking in the ecosystem is larger than ever. Consumers can shop from globalmarketplaces to boutique shops and everything in between, yet one major issueremains consistent across no matter the size of the store: returns. Advertisement Online purchases are three times more likely to be returned compared to in-store purchases. The issue is particularly pronounced when it comes to clothing, shoes and other wearable fashion. We’ve all had the experience of adding a shirt or pair of slacks or shoes to our online cart, only to find upon delivery that the product is too small or too large to fit. There isn’t much retailers can do but accept returns as a matter of course and hope for the best, despite the impact on their bottom line. Since 60% of 18 to 25-year-olds report giving up on a retailer after having difficulty returning a product, finding the right way to reduce returns while maintaining high customer satisfaction is essential, albeit difficult. The key way to accomplish this is by ensuringthe product fits correctly before it’s even shipped. By utilizing theworld-facing sensor built into a modern iPhone, online shoppers can scanthemselves to ensure proper sizing. When buying a shirt, for example, armlength and chest width decide how well a particular item will fit. Customers canscan these attributes and use them for comparison against the measurements ofitems available online. The ability to ensure a proper fit withoutactually trying on each item represents a massive step forward for retailers.What’s more, simply having this technology built in to an ecommerce store givesan AR-enabled retailer an edge over the competition. The long-term effects ofCOVID-19 on ecommerce remain to be seen, and are currently having a mixedeffect. While overall ecommerce sales have risen, the fashion industry itselfhas taken a dramatic tumble. In short, there are more customers online now thanat any time in the past — yet they’ll need some impetus to visit, browse andbuy at a particular store. AR integration, made possible throughconsumer-level 3D scanning, can fundamentally alter the way fashion retailfunctions, bringing more confidence and interest from shoppers. Beyond that isthe ability to change not only how people shop, but what they prefer topurchase entirely. Personalized Wear Every ecommerce retailer knows the value ofpersonalization. Put a customer’s name in the subject line of an email and theopen rate increases as much as 50%. This type of individual attentionnow drives the marketing philosophy behind ecommerce. With 3D scanning,retailers can personalize not only their websites and emails but the productsthey offer as well. Orthotics are one of the most popular custom products meant for daily wear, with total sales expected to hit $3.5 billion in 2020 . These custom-designed insoles can aid with diabetes and other circulatory health concerns, or simply help the wearer improve their stride and gait. A proper orthotic must be molded to the wearer’s foot shape, size and arch, ensuring the product is as unique as the individual making the purchase. A 3D scan of a customer’s foot can provide the information needed to design a custom orthotic remotely, cutting out the need for an in-store consultation. This not only speeds the sales process but also reduces costs on overhead, and saves the customer time by doing the measurements themselves with their iPhone (or AR-enabled wearable). A custom orthotic can cost as little as $65 , putting these products in the price range for most shoe shoppers. With the right measurements provided through3D scanning, fashion retailers can essentially offer any product they can makethemselves. From tailored suits to custom-fit accessories and one-of-a-kinditems, ecommerce stores will be able to both personalize and individualize theshopping experience better than ever before. Until recently, the integration of AR technology in online shopping remained out of reach. With advancements in both hardware and 3D-scanning software, consumers and retailers have reached a point where they can now ensure a proper fit through easy-to-use applications. Which retailers adopt this technology first remains to be seen; however, once customers begin to gravitate toward these shops, ecommerce as we know it will be forever changed for the better. Charles Carriere is Founder & President at Scandy . He is a New Orleans native who attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a Morehead Scholar. He received his BA in Anthropology. After teaching for a year at the Jakarta International School, he attended the Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, earning his MBA in Finance. Carriere then joined the investment firm of Johnson Rice & Company where he worked as an analyst and institutional stockbroker. He founded Scandy and Entrescan in 2014 as a “side hustle” and left Johnson Rice in 2017 to work more closely with the companies he started.