While the apparel industry has suffered a major setback, the adoption of augmented reality software has seen progress over a decade in just three months
The Zeekit platform uses real-time image processing technology and augmented reality to enable its users to truly try out clothing articles from online catalogs. This technology has been embedded on the website of Walmart, retailer Macy and British Asos.
Zeekit has raised $ 15 million and is heading for an additional round amid a new partnership with Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger. On one hand, the platform offers buyers virtual fitting space that allows them to see how the clothes they buy look to them. On the other hand, his clients are the main fashion chains who have found themselves in an existential crisis.
So is the plague good or bad for your business?
“The answer is ambivalent. People buy less during this period and the fashion chain suffers. Fashion is not like food or Netflix content, which developed during the pandemic. This was one of the sectors that was disadvantaged in advance because no one left home and therefore lacked a reason to buy new clothes. But on the other hand, I couldn’t ask for better interference for the virtual installation sector. The market surged the next 10 years for three months. Fashion companies are experiencing a revolution in terms of understanding the importance of their online activities relative to their physical stores, and from the perspective of Zeekit, it is a positive development, especially in terms of educating the market. “If there are psychological barriers to shopping for clothes online, they are devastated by circumstances,” Vizel told Calcalist. “In the end, fashion companies are in crisis mode after they experienced a 60% drop in sales in the first quarter, which took place during the spring and was traditionally strong for them. The fashion chain has difficulty signing long-term contracts during a crisis because they mainly have to worry about their own exit strategies. We are part of that industry. ”
Vizel said that during the Zeekit coronavirus outbreak replaced the photography studio that was intended to shoot a new catalog, but was forced to cancel due to proximity restrictions.
“Asos, for example, sent clothes to 30 photographers in London so they could shoot him with dolls,” Vizel said. “We received separate images of doll clothes and models that took part in the catalog and opened a virtual clothing assembly line, which basically became the Asos studio during the outbreak. You can’t find out about the final product, but every photo included in the catalog was made by Zeekit. The models never really wear the clothes they wear. ”
What does a virtual fitting room do?
“We accept images of clothing articles and place them through the process of digitization. After being digitized, clothing can then be superimposed on an endless number of models. “The results of this process are as good if not better than the images produced in the studio,” Vizel said. “This is a new world of opportunity and user experience.”
Was the idea of an actual dress model born during the plague?
“This is a product we always have, but it ranks lower on our value offerings. There is no question that the importance of Zeekit is increasing as a result of a pandemic. That makes us an important part of the brand rather than merely a feature of enhancing the customer experience. When a company cannot produce an image “They cannot sell their products. We are out of the ‘happy to have’ category and into the ‘must have’ category, which is a significant change,” Vizel explained.
This is a very cost-effective step, but doesn’t it risk being considered fake?
“We found that the fashion chain was running terrible studio operations, but it wasn’t necessary. The company realizes that (using Zeekit) is much more convenient, with less logistics and expenses, and gives them added value. The idea is that we allow them the option to show what a product looks like on a variety of different models, with other measurements and skin color. If the choice is between one photo that might not be relevant to me as a shopper or three photo models with different sizes, skin colors and body shapes, I’m better with the latter. ”
Vizel gained his experience in the imaging world during his military service in a special Israeli Air Force unit. “We do a topographic mapping of geographical areas and build a layer of intelligence intelligence on it. That’s what we basically do now. Each clothing article is scanned and broken into ten thousand small parts that allow our software to install it perfectly on the body of the model, “he said.
Can technology turn images into flattering misleading?
“No, that is entirely objective. It doesn’t have the capacity to flatter, narrow, or make you thinner. It was made while drawing many comparisons between digital products and real ones, “Vizel explained. “This is intended to function as a mirror. True, there are mirrors that can damage reflection, but we are not interested in doing that because the overall goal of technology is to make purchases easier and reduce product returns and exchanges. According to our research with two chains, using Zeekit reduced purchase returns from 38% to only 2%, which is a game changer for the online shopping market. ”
Will the surge in online shopping continue?
“Yes. The chain has also significantly improved their services in terms of supply chains, customer support and product returns.”
It feels like electronic commerce in Israel is lagging behind the world. Is it true?
“I don’t agree, it’s just that the market is very competitive. There are very strong foreign players in the market. Another factor that cannot be ignored is that Israel is a very small country with many accessible shopping outlets. When you order a clothing article online, you might get it in a few hours, but when you have a store that is 10 minutes away and where you can try it directly, it is preferred. The distribution of shopping centers in Israel is very good, relative to the population. E-commerce generally grows in large regions, such as North America and Europe, where ready access to brands may be more limited and includes travel to the outlet center which may be an hour’s drive away from home on the highway. Israel’s initial position was better, “Vizel explained.
Does that mean that Zeekit can only grow abroad?
“Without a doubt,” Vizel said. “The convenience of purchasing in Israel is very high and in the end customers only change their behavior out of necessity.”
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