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E-magazine RFID & Wireless IoT Global Issue 02/2022
H&M

3D Avatars Support H&M Customers

Keeping Stationary Retail Attractive: The Avatar as an Interface between Online and Offline

A Digital Dressing Room

Test Clothing on Your Own Digital Avatar

The fashion sector has always had its own dynamics: In order to keep up with the times, new collections are launched at short intervals, increasingly independent of the previous main influencing factors such as the seasons for example. Long production and delivery times are set against the demands for rapid availability. In parallel, brick-and-mortar retail is coming under increasing pressure from the rapid growth of online retail.

What solutions provide relief?

Florian Kette, NeXR Technologies and Oliver Lange, H&Mbeyond., in an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global.

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Do Physical Stores Have a Future?

How can fashion stores like H&M embrace these trends and counteract the downward spiral? The Swedish fashion group has launched two initiatives – H&M Lab and H&Mbeyond. – in Germany, H&M's strongest market in terms of sales, in order to find new ways to meet the challenges. In an agile and creative environment, the head of both initiatives, Oliver Lange, is working with his team on the future of the fashion store.

H&M is focusing in particular on cooperation with innovative startups such as NeXR Technologies. When asked who will win the race in the end, online or offline shopping?, Oliver Lange and Florian Kette's answer is quite different:

"The answer is neither. It' s more a matter of linking the digital world with the physical world in different ways. Fashion is not only something visual but always something haptic as well. That's why physical contact will always play a major role in fashion. However, integrating this in the best possible way into a digital environment is an important, if not crucial, task for the development of retail today and in the future."

H&M has Embraced the Learning Curve

Shopping should be easy, relaxing and stimulating. “This is where offline retail has to learn from online retail. There is absolutely no way around this necessary learning curve. 3D avatars can become an important interface for getting immediate feedback from customers about which products and services work and which don't,” emphasizes Oliver Lange.

Fewer Returns: Optimized Product Range

The Avatar as an Interface between Online and Offline

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"Do we actually still need a physical store in the future? That is by far the most frequently asked question today. As someone who dedicates all his creativity, ideas and time to the fashion retail of the future, I can clearly say: Yes, physical stores will continue to have a firm place in the shopping ecosystem in the future. After all, physical stores can create values that can only be experienced through 'the real thing'. In addition to touching and trying on clothes, consulting and discussing fashion trends are just as much a part of the experience as the overall feeling of being in the store.

Having the opportunity there to hold all the pieces in your hands without having to make a selection online and then spending one or even several days holding a fraction of a collection in your hands. Stores will increasingly be used as showrooms by retailers and brands in the future, for example, to allow special collections to be experienced exclusively at those locations and not elsewhere. The physical store will remain the bridge through which brands can approach customers in a way that would not be possible in a purely digital world," says Oliver Lange.

The Interaction of Avatar and App as of Summer 2021

Starting in summer 2021, the first 3D scanners from NeXR Technologies will be installed in selected H&M stores. According to Florian Kette, utilization is designed to be as simple as possible for customers. "The entire process takes only a few minutes. After a customer enters the scanner, he or she is guided through the necessary steps, including all data protection aspects, via a specially developed user interface on a touch display.

After starting the capture process, which takes less than five seconds, fully automated image processing takes place, resulting in an animatable 3D avatar. Manual processing steps by 3D artists are eliminated."

Fewer Returns and Optimized Product Range

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With the virtual dressing room, H&M is pursuing numerous goals. One of them is to reduce the number of returns. If a 3D avatar is used, there is a high probability that the selected items will also fit and appeal in reality. Transport routes for returns can be minimized.

A second benefit for H&M, according to Oliver Lange, comes from more knowledge about customers: "If customers want to try on clothes anonymously, this is not a problem. But when they share their data with us, there's a lot of added value. We as H&M would for the first time have the opportunity to know what online customers try on and why customers bought which size and, if necessary, also to identify which sizes, such as in-between sizes for example, are missing."

Features of the 3D Avatar Solution

  • Photogrammetry and Depth Sensing:
    A total of more than 130 integrated sensors and cameras capture every last detail of the person in the scanner in just a few seconds.
  • Personal 3D Avatar – Animated and Immediately Available:
    After capture in the scanner, only a few minutes pass before an animated, 3D avatar is available in an app. Customers can have a new avatar made of themselves at any time.
  • Focus on Data Protection:
    Customers retain full control over their sensitive data at all times. All stored data can only be viewed by the customer and can be completely deleted.
  • Space-Saving:
    Every square meter of store space is costly. The 3D scanner is built on the smallest possible footprint.

Source: RFID & Wireless IoT Global: Issue 01-2021

Lecture by Florian Kette and Oliver Lange at the Retail & Logistics Think WIOT Day 2021

The lectures from the Think WIOT Day "Knowledge for Retailers" on February 17th can be found here.

Friedrich Matthias Jung
Friedrich Matthias Jung
Editor
Lüneburg, Germany
Vanessa Tan
Vanessa Tan
Editor & Marketing Manager
Lüneburg near Hamburg, Germany
Rena Garbe-Emden
Rena Garbe-Emden
Graphics Specialist
Lüneburg, Germany
Anja Van Bocxlaer
Anja Van Bocxlaer
Editor in chief and Conference Manager
Lüneburg, near Hamburg, Germany
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