We have developed an innovative and unique product which encompasses 3 aspects of online shopping. We have
developed proprietary software which takes the Gerber/Lectra or other digital manufacturing version of a
garment which is used for cutting and manufacturing and processes it into 3D Studio Max format which can be
used in a games engine environment to dress an avatar. This operation can be applied on a mass scale to over
10000 garments at a time. We have linked with the University of Ulster to develop an avatar creation process
for the individual shopper which can then be used and adapted as required. We then bring both of these
together to create the avatari.me shopping experience. The potential of the product can be seen by viewing the video below:
The Avatari.me application is designed to improve the buying experience of online apparel shoppers by
providing them with the ability to “try on” and model clothes, shoes and accessories using an avatar
customised to their body shape and appearance. The virtual apparel will have a real world equivalent that
shoppers can purchase from within the virtual store environment. Shoppers will be able to invite their
friends to either share their virtual shopping session or to join in and have their own avatars try the
clothing. This product will enable shoppers to try on clothes on their actual body shape and size thereby
reducing the frustration of ordering items to home only to find they do not fit or look well. The online
retailer purchasing this technology, will have both a reduction in costs and an increase in sales because of
having this new and unique shopping experience for its customers.
For an average online retailer with a turnover of £10 million the cost of returns is normally about 10% of
sales. The cost of this product is on average 2% of sales but also increases turnover due to the attraction
of new customers. There are obvious benefits for the online retailer.
As an additional product we have developed a demonstration model for online grocery shopping using a personal
avatar and we have created online versions of a Marks and Spencer and a Tesco store and these can be viewed
in the Visualise section under the Other Technology Applications option.
The online clothing retail market in 2014 was £5.5 billion in the UK. The online sales in Europe is approx €25
billion and the market in the USA is approximately $25 billion. The recent Mintel (2014) projections for online
shopping figures by 2017 are £10 billion for the UK and € 50 billion for Europe and $50 billion for the USA.
We have had discussions with a number of the large High Street retailers such as Marks and Spencer, John Lewis,
Boden, Monsoon, Primark, Republic and a number of smaller retailers exploring an online presence. All are very
favourably disposed towards this type of initiative with Marks and Spencer working with us through their Head
Office in London in developing the Batch Processor prototype.
The size and scope of the online market has been itemised earlier. Traditional retailers such as M&S, who are
working with us, have now gained experience of online retailing and understand that their physical stores can
be used to enhance their overall customer loyalty by approaching mixed channel strategies: establishing strong
links between the in-store and online offer is now essential. The end game is for online and in-store sales
channels to simply blur into one, becoming fully integrated. John Lewis' online fashion re-launch and M&S' web
store are examples of these retailers trying to move in the right direction but most mid-market sites still
have some way to go before decoding the latest trends and selling stock in an integrated and easy-to-use way,
similar to Net-a-Porter at the luxury end. The risk though is that as consumers' expectations rise, a bad online
experience will increasingly affect loyalty, not just to the web store but to the brand's high street stores as
well. So, retailers must continue investing not just in the virtual shop but the online experience as a whole,
in order to nurture such long term relationships.
As part of the research process Entec Studios commissioned Market Solutions (NI) to undertake a limited
programme of end-user research. This was designed to explore reaction to the concept and to take cognisance of
any issues that consumers may have and identify any suggestions for improvement.
For convenience two focus groups of women were selected, one group being in the age range 18 to 24 and the other
from 25 to 40. The focus groups were interviewed in Belfast, as previous work which had been undertaken in this area,
in both GB and ROI, has illustrated broadly similar consumer behaviours in these geographical markets.
The overall reaction to the concept of Avatari.me was positive, and it was perceived as a novel and interesting
innovation. This opinion grew as the respondents became more familiar with the proposed features.
There is enormous potential for expansion within this industry as this is a product which, from all predictions,
will continue to grow globally. In recent television news articles regarding the growth of the Post Office business
because of an increase in online deliveries, it was predicted that over a third of all purchases by 2022 will be done
online. If you consider that currently online sales in the USA are $25 billion with over 30 billion euros for Europe,
then this product in its final state will be in very high demand throughout the world.