H&M and NeXR launch the future with the first virtual fitting room

Fashion retailer H&M uses NeXR body scanner system to enable virtual fitting using AvatarCloud app

Partner of this project:

A NEW Fitting-EXPERIENCE: THE H&M Showcase in BRIEF

THE CHALLENGE

As one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, H&M is constantly concerned with reducing costly and environmentally damaging returns. This is now the biggest cost driver for many companies in the textile industry. In addition, fashion brands with a large network of brick-and-mortar stores are struggling with declining visitor numbers, partly due to customer shift to e-commerce and disadvantages in terms of product variety compared to online stores. With the help of innovative technologies, the company now wants to take countermeasures and at the same time improve the customer experience.

 

NEXR SOLUTION

In our self-developed body scanner, H&M customers can create a virtual avatar of themselves and have it transferred to the AvatarCloud app. In the app, items of clothing can be tried on with just a few clicks. The customer’s body measurements are stored
in the app so that the correct clothing sizes can be reliably determined and purchased. In the app, items of clothing can be tried on with just a few clicks and outfits can be saved for later. At the same time, users have the opportunity to share virtually tried-on outfits with their friends via social media.

RESULTS

The first virtual fitting was tested in 2 H&M flagship stores in Berlin and Hamburg. The first results, obtained in a customer survey, were very promising: almost 60% of customers found the virtual fitting helpful in finding out the right size of clothes. In addition, 92% of users confirmed that the service helped them find out whether they liked the clothes they had chosen. The vast majority (64%) consider the virtual fitting room to be the future of shopping.

That's going back: High return rates as a HUGE challenge for H&M and the entire fashion industry

With worldwide sales of €19.4 billion (2021) in textiles and apparel, H&M is one of the most important global fashion players. The company operates 4,800 stores, and a significant share of sales is also generated through online retail. To drive innovative ideas and advanced technologies, the company has established a subsidiary, H&M Beyond.

Among other things, H&M Beyond deals with the challenge of high return rates in the fashion sector. The industry records significantly higher returns than, for example, food retail or the trade with electronic products. According to an EHI study from 2020, return rates of between 40 and 60 percent are common. Another decisive factor is the increasing shift of traditional fashion retailing towards e-commerce.

High return rates, not only in the fashion industry, are also a burden on the environment and generate additional costs for companies. With each return, the carbon footprint and the margin of each garment sold by H&M decrease.

At the same time, fashion brands like H&M, which have a significant presence in shopping malls and city centers, are seeing a decline in customer traffic – and not just since the Corona pandemic. The reasons are obvious: with ever-faster delivery times and greater choice in online stores, customers are changing their buying habits. Instead of visiting physical retail stores, they are shifting their shopping to the couch. Without new, interesting incentives, this trend will continue in the coming years.

Customers’ expectations of service and delivery times are generally increasing all the time. Free shipping and returns of garments have now become standard. In the fashion sector in particular, customers often order several sizes or variations of a garment and return a large part of their order to H&M. The fashion retailer’s logistics and warehousing must therefore guarantee a high degree of flexibility.

The major challenge for H&M is to sustainably reduce return rates, further improve the customer experience and to attract more visitors to bricks and mortar retail again. The first steps in this direction have already been taken, with fitting guides in the H&M online store helping customers to find the right sizes from the outset. The company has also provided videos for many garments in which models wear the pieces in natural situations.

H&M Beyond is also actively exploring digital solutions that can help reduce returns.

The ‚Perfect Fit‘: Virtual Avatars from NEXR Create Added Customer Value and Reduce Return Rates

NeXR Technologies offers a combined solution for the creation and use of virtual avatars with the Fusion III Body Scanner and the AvatarCloud App. H&M Beyond became aware of the technology during a product presentation and was immediately interested in a cooperation.

We already had significant experience with full-body scans from a partnership in the fitness sector. With the help of the AvatarCloud app, body changes had already been recorded in detail, so that an adaptation for the fashion industry was very easy.

Together with H&M Beyond, we developed a virtual fitting concept that was tested in 2 H&M stores a few months later. There we placed our Fusion III Body Scanner, branded in the design of the new H&M Fashion line „No Fear To Try“. Customers were able to download the AvatarCloud app on-site to their iPhone or Android phone, then get scanned and use their virtual twin for a virtual fitting within minutes.

As part of the pilot project, H&M offered its customers 30 garments for virtual fitting. Technically, however, the possibility was created from the outset to make further collections virtual-fitting-capable at any time.

In addition to the novel customer experience that H&M customers were able to experience at the pilot locations, the virtual avatar offers further advantages for H&M in the future – especially for e-commerce, promotions and social media communication. Provided that collections available in the online store are digitized, customers will be able to use the AvatarCloud app to virtually try on and directly order many items of clothing from the H&M online store in the future, depending on clothing size and color selection. Outfits can also be saved in the AvatarCloud app for later and shared with friends via social media.

The body scanners in the local stores are also a good way of creating new incentives for visits and thus countering the declining visitor frequencies in the industry as a whole. The combination of a haptic experience on site and the benefits of the digitized supply chain is a particularly compelling argument. Visitors can touch and check the clothing in the store and receive the right size sent home a few days later.

NeXR teams from the areas of „Virtual Fitting & Body Measurement“, „3D Avatar Creation“ and „Motion Capturing“ were involved in the conception and realization of the H&M Virtual Fitting project. NeXR CMO Christoph von der Malsburg was in charge of the project. CEO Oliver Lange was responsible for the project on behalf of H&M Beyond.

The avatar creation process

1

SCAN

Customer gets scanned in your store.

2

PROCESSING

Avatar gets created and uploaded to our AvatarCloud including body measurements.

3

READY TO USE

The avatars can be provided for your applications, regardless of whether the customer has been scanned at your site or at another location.

H&M campaign „No Fear To Try“ in the context of NEXR Virtual Fitting
The 3D body scanner in an H&M Store in Berlin
THE PROCESS OF SCANNING AND DIGITIZING ONLY TAKES A FEW MINUTES
AvatarCloud app with the H&M customer digitized in our Fusion III Body Scanner.
H&M customers can try on selected items with their avatar
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Christoph von der Malsburg:

Go-to market director
NEXR Technologies SE

How did the project start?

H&M Beyond became aware of our full-body scanners during a product launch. H&M Beyond CEO Oliver Lange told us about the problem of increasing returns. We immediately developed a rough framework for the virtual fitting pilot project. Since our body scanners are portable and our AvatarCloud app was already fully developed, we were able to roll out the project to the stores quite quickly.

What was the biggest challenge in this project?

Developing a customized virtual fitting solution is quite challenging. Dressing outfits for individual, photo-realistic avatars fully automatically is the technical killer feature of this project. So far, I don’t know of any other provider that can realize this unique selling point with the same level of automation and detail.

For you, what sticks out about this project?

My own avatar. I was there during the set-up and testing and had myself scanned several times. It struck me once again how accurate our scanner technology is. The measurement is accurate to the millimeter and I was not even aware of many of my values. That was interesting and I can directly do something with it.

OUTCOME

Visible effects: Satisfied customers and fewer returns

During the three week test phase in October and November 2021, H&M pilot stores saw increased customer interest in the new way of trying on clothes. Customers were enthusiastic about the quality of their virtual avatar and the detailed information about their body measurements. Many participants immediately recognized the added value of the avatar. In addition to the precise fitting and the associated containment of return rates, customers also noticed the usefulness of the body measurements for online shopping and fitness, for example.

During the three week pilot project, the NeXR AvatarCloud app was downloaded a total of 623 times. 587 user accounts were registered and a total of 484 scans were performed. These numbers indicate that not only is there a lot of initial interest in our service, but users also see actual value in virtual fitting, as only a small fraction dropped out with each subsequent step.

The gender distribution among users was predominantly balanced: 53% of participants were female, 45% male, 1% diverse. The virtual fitting service was predominantly used by H&M customers aged 16-20 (48%) and 21-30 (30%). Surprising to us was that just under 8% of participants were between the ages of 51 and 60.

At the same time, it can be seen in the initial data that H&M customers who were scanned used their avatar multiple times for virtual fitting. Thus, a total of 1,025 fittings took place over the test period. The purely numerical insights already suggest that the shopping process was made more efficient for the customer and thus the return rate is likely to be low. A final evaluation of the returns is still pending.

In an on-site customer survey, we found that many users used Virtual Fitting to get inspiration on new styles (45%). Most customers tried on casual outfits (41%), suggesting that an adaptation of the Virtual Fitting service is relevant to a broad audience.

In the Customer Experience survey, 90% of participants confirmed a very good or good scanning experience in our full-body scanner. When asked what else they would like to use their virtual avatars for, 37% responded with „fitness tracking,“ another 37% with „trying out new hair styles,“ and 24% with „use in games.“ This confirms the multiple use of avatars for different purposes.

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Virtual Fittings performed per day in the pilot phase

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ITEMS TRIED ON PER Avatar

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of participants consider the scanning experience to be „very good“ or „good“

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of participants think that virtual fitting should be part of the future of fashion shopping

CLIENT REVIEW

„As the H&M Innovation Lab, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience and increase profitability through digital solutions. Initial findings from our joint project with NEXR indicate that our customers are embracing virtual fitting and that it is an efficient way to avoid returns. We are continuing our collaboration with NEXR and will soon roll out Virtual Fitting in more H&M stores.“

– OLIVER LANGE, CEO H&M BEYOND

NEXT STEPS

Expansion of scan locations and e-commerce rollout

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Based on the positive insights from the pilot project, an expansion of the scan locations in H&M flagship stores in several major German and international cities is planned. At the same time, further H&M collections are to be digitized and made available in the AvatarCloud app. In the medium term, Virtual Fitting will also be offered in the H&M online store.

INFORMATION TO READ ON

Virtual Fitting und Body Measurement

Learn more about our scanner solutions, used in the fitness and fashion sectors, among others. 

3D Avatar Creation as a service

We create photo-realistic avatars that our partners can use in real time.

Our Virtual Fitting project in the press

Numerous media relevant to the industry have reported on the Virtual Fitting project, including “Textilwirtschaft”.

INFORMATION TO READ ON

Virtual Fitting und Body Measurement

Learn more about our scanner solutions, used in the fitness and fashion sectors, among others. 

3D Avatar Creation as a service

We create photo-realistic avatars that our partners can use in real time.

Our Virtual Fitting project in the press

Numerous media relevant to the industry have reported on the Virtual Fitting project, including “Textilwirtschaft”.

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