Macy’s is trying out new technology geared to make the right match between body and bra.
Acknowledging that buying bras that fit properly can be frustrating for shoppers, Macy’s, in 10 of its larger volume department stores, has launched Fit:Match, a bra-fitting solution where associates use their iPhones, equipped with Lidar body mapping technology, to scan shoppers in the privacy of fitting rooms, and within seconds can access information suggesting bra styles, sizes and brands presumed to be best based on their body shape.
Fit:Match uses a patented algorithm matching a customer to a digital twin, or an avatar, with a similar body shape that’s stored in a database of real people, kept anonymous, who have already tried on the product. Shoppers will be able to scan a QR code to save and shop their matches on their own device.
Currently, Fit:Match at Macy’s only works with Bali and Maidenform bras, though the store carries many more intimates brands.
The technology has been deployed in the intimates departments at Macy’s in Boca Raton and Dadeland, Florida; Century City, California; Herald Square, Kings Plaza, Queens Center and Roosevelt Field in New York; South Portland, Maine; South Shore Plaza, Massachusetts, and in Willowbrook, New Jersey.
“The traditional fitting process is archaic and needs to evolve, and technology is the answer,” said Haniff Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Fit:Match. Aside from being a solution to that, Brown said Fit:Match provides data analytics and insights to brands to better serve shoppers.
Brown, a first-generation Jamaican immigrant, studied mathematics and psychology at Williams College in Massachusetts and before starting Fit:Match, he worked at Credit Suisse and Freeman Spogli, focusing on investing in retail and consumer companies.
Fit technology in the past hasn’t actually caught on in stores partly because it can be cumbersome or difficult to use, and enough brands have to participate. It’s more apparent on websites, where customers input their measurements and then get recommendations on selections.
Here, Brown discusses how Fit:Match works, its potential and why he sees a future in it.
WWD: Is the technology just for bras?
H.B.: “The issue we are solving for starts with bras — the-hardest-to-fit category with the highest barrier to purchase. But Fit:Match is versatile to apply to other apparel categories as well. We believe denim, swim and activewear are specifically suitable. Next year, we will be expanding into these other categories.
WWD: Does it recommend specific bra brands for the shopper? Or just style and size?
H.B.: It recommends the correct size in each style across the brands available on the platform. Today, shoppers will be able to see size recommendations across Bali and Maidenform. When more brands are added to the platform, shoppers will get access to styles from them as well.
WWD: How does it work?
H.B.: We gather a database of digital twins of people who have tried on the garments before, who have recorded their sizes, and [for whom] we have a digital avatar. So that database of digital twins represents a comparison set. And when a shopper gets scanned in a fitting room or at home, we compare her anonymized avatar to one of the people in that digital twin database. We’re able to say you’re closest to number 157. And because we know the size information on that person, we know what garments they like, we know what garments fit, and we know what sizes they are, we’re able to say, “you should also purchase the sizes that digital twin 157 purchased.” It’s a pretty unique approach that we’ve developed.
WWD: Who owns the company?
H.B.: I have a significant part of the equity, as does my management team. And then we have minority investors as well. Savage x Fenty and Fabletics made investments in our company. They are also clients. We have other investors and advisers. Karen Katz, a former CEO of Neiman Marcus, is an adviser.
WWD: Is this considered a test with Macy’s?
H.B.: I would characterize it as a launch-and-see approach in select stores. But they want to optimize it for long-term success. So they’re choosing these high-volumes stores with a lot of traffic.
WWD: What is the financial arrangement with Macy’s?
H.B.: We have a subscription business model where retailers license the technology from us, typically over a certain time period. We handle the entire delivery and maintenance of the technology. We upgrade features they want over time.
WWD: Why hasn’t fit technology really caught on in stores?
H.B.: A big reason why we believe this hasn’t caught on in the past is because the technology hasn’t been easy to use. Fit:Match is not like an airport scanner that’s big and cumbersome. All we’re doing is replacing the tape measure, for the 21st century.
But it’s not only to make the process simpler. The ROI [return on investment] is significant. So for Savage x Fenty, with the shoppers who do use this, there is five times the conversion rate of shoppers who don’t. So we’re also increasing the average order value by 20 to 35 percent, on average. They buy more units per transaction and higher price points as well, because they’re more confident. They also sign up for the loyalty program at two times the rate as shoppers who don’t use the technology. And they report, on average, a 10 point increase in net promoter scores. So that shows that they’re more satisfied with their purchase decision and with the [shopping] journey than those who don’t use the technology.
WWD: Many women when they’re buying bras, take them home, and then try them on. But in this case, you go to the fitting room, partially disrobe, get your body scanned, and so it’s like more of a process.
H.B.: It’s super quick. You get results in under 30 seconds, on average. That was very important for us. We don’t want people waiting around. The amazing thing is there is no mental guessing about what’s the right size across different brands, because one size in one brand fits completely different in another brand. The sizing is not uniform. And that’s true across categories.
WWD: What’s your expectation on expanding Fit:Match to other brands and categories?
H.B.: We actually can go pretty quick. On the onboarding side, we’ve developed proprietary technology that allows us to build out these digital twins very quickly, once the brands give us information. We have every intention of scaling the technology to be broader in the brands that we offer, as quickly as early next year.
WWD: What about privacy concerns?