Will in-home 3D scanner drive online clothing sales?

Source: Naked Labs
Aug 03, 2018
George Anderson

With Amazon.com reportedly on the verge of becoming the largest apparel retailer in the U.S. and others including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Zara putting a greater emphasis on digital sales, it seems clear that Americans are increasingly comfortable with buying clothes online. Unfortunately for retailers, these same consumers are also comfortable returning the same items they order and are doing so at levels well above the 11 percent average return rate for the industry across-the-board.

Now, comes an announcement that a startup – Naked Labs Inc. – has created a 3D body scanner for home use. The device, known as Naked, includes a full-length 3-D scanning smart mirror with a connected scale and mobile app.

People who use the smart mirror will be able to track their body changes over time with details including body fat percentage, lean and fat mass. The machine also creates an avatar of the person’s body.

“Once you create a platform for body models, the number of valuable services for the end user is infinite. We truly believe this will change how people interface with the internet – and their bodies,” said Cyan Banister of Founders Fund, which led a $14 million round of Series A funding for Naked Labs.

The company, according to Business Insider, is already working with retailers to use their Naked avatar to shop for clothes that fit their personal measurements.

Naked says its technology will allow clothes to be tailored within a tenth-of-an-inch. If widely adopted, which is far from certain at the device’s roughly $1,400 price tag, the technology could mean fewer trips to stores to try on clothing. It would also likely mean a reduction in returns as retailers ship orders in the correct sizes.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree with investors who believe that Naked’s body scanning technology opens the door to offering a wide range of health and other services to consumers? What do you see as potential applications for the technology from a retail perspective? Do you see the opportunity for widespread consumer adoption of the tech assuming a price drop as more units are manufactured?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"As an engineer and tech enthusiast, I love it! As a businessman — I recognize there are some major adoption hurdles."
"Having used one of these 3-D scanners for a fitness test, I’m not sure it will boost clothing sales. Maybe gym memberships?"
"Ultimately, your smartphone will have the capability to do body scans on its own without a mirror or other device..."

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24 Comments on "Will in-home 3D scanner drive online clothing sales?"

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Charles Dimov

As an engineer and tech enthusiast, I love it! As a businessman — I recognize there are some major adoption hurdles. They need the retailers who are willing to use it to be true omnichannel champions. Otherwise, no consumer is going to pay $1,400 for such a device for their home. That leaves it being in-store. So only stores that heavily promote omnichannel will like this option.

For widespread adoption of such a technology, the price point really needs to drop by more than a magnitude. I love it personally, but see many hurdles ahead at this price point.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

There seems to be little that is new in this latest attempt at the body-sizing scan can since Levi’s would scan to inform a customer of ideal style and size. The tech is not well served when there is not a complete transaction process to which it can contribute unique value. Most who would be scanned already know what they are covering, so as long as apparel providers have slightly different cuts, shapes and variations in size, the investment in scanning might be better placed elsewhere.

Dave Bruno

While I definitely see the potential value in this body-scanning technology, my instincts are telling me that the majority of apparel shoppers are not yet ready to take on all that effort and expense to ensure a better fit for their off-the-rack clothing. For now, if the greatest value proposition is for retailers to reduce returns, I see very few consumers investing, even if the price drops by half. If however retailers could take advantage of all those body measurement details to customize garments so that they fit/look better, maybe then adoption would increase.

Nikki Baird
I saw this too. While I do believe that familiarity with a technology makes consumers more likely to use it and accept it, I think this one is still a ways out. Everybody was up in arms over fingerprint technology, until it showed up as the security on a smartphone. Everybody has been up in arms over facial recognition — myself included — until it made the fingerprint on the phone look quaint and obsolete. So, sure. Body scanning could get past consumer objections by, one, being something they do in the privacy of their home and two, being something they may feel like they have more control or ownership over, vs. a scanner set up in a mall or even the airport body scanners. But this thing is $1,400 and takes up a lot more space than a scale, and from the company’s comments it looks like it’s probably going to be available in gyms first, not too many homes. And while some investors may see the potential in using the data to tap… Read more »
Chris Petersen, PhD.

The price tag of $1,400 is a huge barrier for consumer adoption. Relatively few consumers would pay that to get clothes tailored to within one-tenth of an inch. There would have to be significant health or other benefits to justify in-home adoption. The technology might have potential for some small retailers, fitness centers and maybe clinics, but the current price is too great for widespread adoption. Apparel retailers certainly can’t afford to fund it. Amazon seems to do just fine growing apparel sales without the technology. Who came up with the name “Naked?” I’m not sure that name has consumer appeal at any price. Most of us would gladly avoid standing in front of any mirror or scanner.

Ron Margulis

This is a solution looking for a problem to solve. Ultimately, your smartphone will have the capability to do body scans on its own without a mirror or other device, but I don’t see the need or demand for this intermediary step.

Denis Kelly
1 year 3 months ago

Retailers need to get away from gimmicks and get back to how clothes make customers feel. This technology will never measure or understand how customers feel, so it will ultimately be a challenge for it to improve the buying process. Get back to basics and get customers excited — why else is “experiential retail” winning?

Adrian Weidmann

After just reading a report on how the insurance industry is analyzing mountains of personal data gathered from every possible available source to determine health patterns and perhaps insurance risks and quoted rates, my first reaction is a concern about privacy. Until a broad range of apparel manufacturers offer personally tailored/manufactured clothing, this is yet another clever technology in search of a strategy.

Bob Amster

This technology is going to be in many homes at affordable prices in five to seven years. It is not going to happen tomorrow, but it will become part of many households and, in the process, become an integral part of the apparel e-commerce process.

Jennifer McDermott

Having used one of these 3-D scanners for a fitness test, I’m not sure it will boost clothing sales. Maybe gym memberships?

Cate Trotter

I like the idea of body-scanning tech like this and incorporating it into a mirror is a smart move. At the moment though I would say that the cost and effort is too much for home use. This in a store would be great, but at home I still think smartphone-based body scanners are a quicker and easier idea. Also, if the plan was to share the data with other providers I think there’d need to be a lot of customer education so they’re fully comfortable with this after recent data scandals. I certainly will be keeping an eye on this though.

Dr. Stephen Needel

This is not the greatest thing since sliced bread. They are going to have to figure out the benefits for the shopper because most of the stuff that this product does can be done, for free, at a retailer or custom shop.

Ryan Mathews
Body scanning will becomes standard practice one day — but never at $1,400 a whack — and not until people get over their fear that those “naked” scans of them aren’t going to end up on some Dark Web porn site. Remember how happy people were with body scans at airports? But there is a lesson here. Today, most air travelers routinely pass through those once-controversial scanners without a second thought. So, suppose instead of a $1,400 Naked scanner in your home that you used once a year, a reputable, fully-bonded and secured third-party service offered the same level of accuracy and issues a “Certified Scan” — available in a mall or third-party retailers — for $19.99? And suppose online retailers would only accept returns from Certified Scan users? This would solve the price problem and would put a dent in returns. Ron is right, your smartphone could do this, of course assuming a competent operator. So could your Amazon Echo Look with a little modification. I think people will get used to the idea… Read more »
Shep Hyken

For now, this is cool and forward technology. The goal is a personalized experience. When clothes are made to order — and to meet the specific body shape of a customer — you are on your way to a personalized experience. The clothes don’t need to be custom tailored. The software can match a body to the correct size. This helps avoid returns for clothes that don’t fit. This helps customers get what they want the first time. It’s a win/win. There will be a time when this is standard technology for the retail industry. For now, the advantage will go to those who can afford to adopt this technology before others.

Evan Snively

There is certainly an open alley to the gamification side of things with the avatar visualization. How I could see that tying to retailers is offering the ability to set goals based on the clothes you want to fit into — something people are already doing just in a much more basic way. A user could select an aspirational dress, suit or other piece of clothing and Naked could track the user’s progress towards fitting into the outfit. Once the goal is achieved the outfit is “unlocked” — aka the green light is given to the consumer to purchase — possibly with some brand congratulations or discount.

There are some very fun opportunities for Naked Labs to play with.

Ralph Jacobson

History has shown that the more convenient you make every aspect of shopping, the more consumer adoption will occur. As this spreads to other industries, like healthcare, energy, etc., the more competitive technology will become.

Sterling Hawkins

The potential is massive! But the technology and cost is a significant barrier to adoption. The value proposition will likely have to be strengthened (more value for fewer dollars) before this achieves any meaningful results.

Doug Garnett

Put me down as a full skeptic. Sizing and fit is an incredibly subtle problem. This has all the hallmarks of tossing technology at a problem hoping to make a mint off the technology — without determining if the tech will actually make a major difference.

Turn this tech upside down and ask what it really is. It is automating the measuring of people’s bodies. Nice. I guess. But there are any number of tailor shops I can go to to get that without having to commit to some device.

The challenge isn’t getting the measurements, it’s having places to shop where those measurements are useful and meaningful at getting a better fit than I get off the shelf.

James Tenser
Body scanning for tailored clothing is old news. High-end retailers like Brooks Brothers tried out a system in 1999 that could be used to obtain measurements for bespoke suits and shirts. This hasn’t proved widely practical yet, but the potential is tantalizing. Naked’s smart mirror is certainly a step closer to the prize, but it’s pretty pricey for a home technology that is likely to be used only a couple of times a year. I envision body scans as more of a solution-as-a-service. Scan stations may be installed in retail stores, malls, salons and health clubs where measurements can be captured to the subscriber’s secure account. Imagine accessing your body profile for fit previews while shopping for apparel online — or even at an in-store smart mirror. The system might even use AI to search items most likely to fit each individual’s shape. Manufacturers could access meta-data to help design apparel silhouettes. With links to digital fabric-cutting systems, bespoke items like jeans, shirts and suits might become routine purchases, not just for one-percenters. In short,… Read more »
Ricardo Belmar

James, you’ve nailed the true value here — data. As many here are concluding, this tech isn’t really necessary in its current state to be present in the consumer’s home — especially at this price point! I’ve used this type of technology at Alton Lane in Manhattan to buy a custom tailored suit. No doubt it works well and produces a great result, but in that case I wasn’t buying everyday apparel. There will surely be services built around this as you suggest and that’s where the real business model will step in and turn this into something of value to consumers. Otherwise, it’s another technology looking for a problem to solve.

Cynthia Holcomb
Individual human “fit preferences” are not based on body measurements, nor body scans. Individual humans purchase apparel based individual sensory preferences of fit, look and feel; how a garment fits their body, feels on their body and looks on their body in the mirror. It is not about measurements. Some people like clothes loose, some tight. Clothes are 3-D products. Adding even more subjectivity to individually preferred, sensory-based, subjective fit preferences. And because all apparel brands fit differently, even with the exact same measurements, digital matching of an individual person to an individual product does not and has not worked — ever — using body measurements! Why? Even within the same brand, there are hundreds of variables, including EASE (the added space so a human can get the garment on his/her body), which affect the fit and shape of a garment. Fit and shape brand standards are what patterns are based on. They add ease to a range of product classifications and styles, greatly affecting fit and shape outcomes multiplied by differences in fibers, fabrications,… Read more »
Ananda Chakravarty

Since we’ve gotten most of the great comments already out of the way, I’ll just add 2 cents worth. My bet is that it’s cool tech — even if it’s low cost, but too early for apparel (maybe something else though). Why?

First, no standards, which are a requirement (even implicit) to enable anything mainstream. Companies like TrueFit and Rakuten’s FIt.me have been trying to form a way to deliver standards in sizing for quite some time — across brands.

Second, uneconomical to shift manufacturing from assembly line to custom tailored. There’s a reason they have small, medium, and large — so they don’t have a medium extra small with larger arm lengths by two inches and smaller necklines by one inch. No matter how well the tools measure the body, the tech has to match it with apparel that fits.

Steve Johnson

I bought a 3D body scanner 11 years ago now, for a lot more than $1,400, to research the clothing opportunity. We worked with several other businesses who did the same. We have lots of insight that we are now acting upon with our new business. Suffice to say body scanning is not part of our roadmap, although our single scanner remains in use. Thankfully we did our research for far less than $14M….

Min-Jee Hwang

The price of this product will be the biggest hurdle for now, but a lack of interested retailers and privacy concerns will also likely hold back adoption. However, the concept is a good one, which is to improve the omnichannel clothes-buying experience. I just see this type of technology being used more in-store, as retailers install them and allow shoppers to scan themselves, upload their scans to their user profiles and use that info to buy in-store, online, and whenever they want.

"As an engineer and tech enthusiast, I love it! As a businessman — I recognize there are some major adoption hurdles."
"Having used one of these 3-D scanners for a fitness test, I’m not sure it will boost clothing sales. Maybe gym memberships?"
"Ultimately, your smartphone will have the capability to do body scans on its own without a mirror or other device..."

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