The Next Big Thing

Online fitting room: Chinese 3D modelling start-up will let you 'try on' clothes before you buy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 11:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 12:36pm

A Chinese company wants to spice-up online shopping by enabling users to try on clothes via a detailed 3D model of themselves before they buy.

Chengdu-based Liangtishiyi (the company's name translates as "to tailor your clothes by measuring your body") announced this week that it has received a major angel investment from Zhe Shang Venture Capital to expand its service and develop its 3D modelling technology.

According to Tech in Asia, Liangtishi currently allows users to create a 3D model of themselves via a feature "that functions a lot like the character creation tools in many video games: you drag sliders around to make your avatar the size and shape of your body".

Once created, the 3D model can then be used on the company's e-commerce platform to "try on" clothes and judge how they would look on the user.

"Since the advent of online clothes shopping, businesses and consumers have been plagued by the fact that they can't try on clothes, making it easy to choose the wrong size or style," said company COO Chen Rong in a statement.

"For clothing businesses, return rates because of [customer dissatisfaction] remains stubbornly high," Chen said, adding that the company's technology could function as an effective online "fitting room".

While Liangtishiyi claims that its technology is a "world first", this idea has been tried in the past. Paris-based start-up Fitle launched a similar service in 2013, vowing to "create the future of online shopping", with a beta version of the company's mobile shopping app due to launch next month.

As yet, neither company has landed a major partnership with a large vendor, a vital next step to growing the business and popularising the technology.

In China, online shopping is dominated by Alibaba's B2C e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall, which have a combined 57 per cent market share, followed closely by rival, which commands around 25 per cent of the B2C market, according to consultancy BysoftChina. Alibaba's grasp on mobile shoppers is even stronger, with the company's platforms controlling more than 86 per cent of the market in 2014, according to iResearch.

A failure to land a partnership with a major e-commerce site would likely leave Liangtishiyi out in the wilderness of online shopping, with an innovative technology but no customers.

Another hurdle may be the company's current platform, which is currently on available for Windows and requires users to download and install the app. Tech in Asia described it as "pretty rough", adding that the "user experience currently feels a little dated".