Shopping can be intimidating.
This story first appeared in the May 2, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Me-Ality is out to make it less so.
For customers overwhelmed by the deluge of brands and those brands’ sizing variations, Tanya Shaw, president and chief executive officer of Me-Ality by Unique Solutions, said Me-Ality’s size-matching capabilities can help take the mystery out of finding clothes that fit right. “If the customer goes into the fitting room and every single item they try on fits them, there is a much greater likelihood not only to upsell that consumer, but also to be able to have her want to purchase more,” she said.
Me-Ality has placed size-matching stations in the common areas of 50 U.S. malls and is on track to have 300 inside malls by the end of the year. Customers enter the stations fully clothed and a wand rotates around them for 20 seconds to capture 200,000 data points from their bodies. Afterward, they receive a Me-Ality identification number and a curated shopping guide of recommended items that fit them from different brands and retailers. The service is free to customers, but retailers and brands pay per recommendation. However, Shaw stressed, “Unless it truly fits them, it won’t show up on the shopping guide.”
The implications of the service for retail sales are widespread. Shaw said 40 to 60 percent of customers who go online or into a store to shop for items from their shopping guides purchase something off the guides, and 60 percent of those using Me-Ality have tried or bought an item from a brand they weren’t aware of or didn’t know would fit them. “They are also being more confident with shopping online because they know that when they order that size, it is going to fit them properly,” said Shaw, who continued, “We are guiding them to better-fitting apparel, and this is really about knowing that customer better than she even knows [herself.]”
When it comes to knowing the customer, Shaw underscored that utilizing the data Me-Ality can provide is critical. From the information collected, which covers users’ size, gender, ethnicity and purchases, among other elements, retailers and brands learn how their sizing competes in the marketplace, she explained. They can get a feel for customer preferences as well. “Everyone knows that we ordered too much of a certain size, but what people don’t know is what could have sold had it been on the shelf,” said Shaw. “Companies that start to take advantage of this information are going to be the companies that really succeed in the next period of time.”
The ultimate goal is for retailers to effectively and efficiently meet customers’ demands. To do that, mass customization will be taken to “a whole new level,” according to Shaw. In the future, she said, customers would be able to point their mobile device at a piece of clothing to determine if it fits them and if it complements their wardrobes. She also mentioned an evolution of dynamic couponing, in which customers are told about sales based on their locations, that incorporates fit data. “It is not just that there is something in that store that is on sale, it is what’s in that store that’s for me, that’s going to suit me,” said Shaw.