Over the past couple years, start-ups offering virtual versions of a dressing room haven’t really taken off. A few have found success by throwing off the yoke of 3D, working instead with algorithms in two dimensions, or using avatars based on a customer’s measurements, in order to help users arrive at the correct fit.
Another answer to the online try-on model might be in targeted technology. Retail start-up DITTO specializes in 3D virtual fitting for eyewear only. By recording a short webcam video, users create a 3D version of themselves, which the company calls a “Ditto,” to virtually try on glasses with a 180 degree view. Kate Endress, DITTO’s CEO, sat down with us to chat about her company’s patent pending program and what she would advise others in the field to do:
The High Low: Can you tell us about the technology behind DITTO? We want to know more about an online fit system that actually works.
Kate Endress: DITTO’s 3D try-on technology is completely proprietary. Our team of talented engineers built algorithms that detect your facial features and structure from a short video taken from your webcam or mobile camera. We reconstruct your face in 3D, behind the scenes, and scale digitized glasses to your unique face so you can see how you look from every angle. Our technology is patent-pending.
THL: How many people have used Ditto so far?
KE: Over 150,000 have created their DITTO since our launch in April 2012.
KE: Yes! Return rates for users with DITTOs is under 5%, compared to average retail return rates of 25%. We are giving customers enough information to see how the glasses fit on their face.
THL: Do you save the videos or are they deleted after customers are done with them?
KE: Each DITTO is stored in that customer’s account so that when the customer returns for another pair, they just log in and can shop using their DITTO again without having to recreate it.
THL: Clearly, DITTO is a virtual try on service that actually works. There have been a spate of others who haven’t. Do you have any advice for others in this area?
KE: The concept for a virtual-try on tool that actually shows fit has been around for a long time, but it’s extremely difficult to solve for, because you need very accurate measurements of the customer and visually compelling digital 3D products. Before I started DITTO, I interviewed hundreds of users trying out different try-on tools. Some companies erred on the side of just using recommendations based on customer input, like measurements or other brands that fit them, but I learned from my research that customers really need to see it on themselves to believe it. Many companies that have tried to create a visual for how a garment or item fits have stumbled due to demanding a very awkward user experience to collect measurements accurately. My research confirmed that no one knows their measurements off hand, nor do they want to have a friend measure them, nor do they want to use an animated avatar or adjustable robot, nor are they willing to go to a location to be scanned in their underwear by a huge machine. We knew if we were going to crack the nut on getting measurements seamlessly, it needed to be really easy and only require that a customer use the camera on their laptop or phone.
My advice is to spend a lot of time talking to customers to make sure the process is easy and the end result is compelling. Really listen to their pain points and watch them use competitive tools. Some of our best features, like the ability to share your DITTO with a friend or spouse to have them shop for you, came from customer interviews.
THL: Anything new coming up you can tell us about?
KE: In addition to launching new brands every month, we are constantly improving the user experience. We will be rolling out major speed improvements, a responsive design so the site looks great on any mobile device outside an app, and native apps for every mobile device this year. We obsess about improving the way customers can see what fits them, so we are also working on better recommendations based on fit and face shape, and some new visuals that should better show where the glasses are tight and loose.