Japan’s largest e-commerce company is betting that it has found the key to selling clothes online: a size-measuring bodysuit and its own line of clothing.
The company behind shopping site Zozotown – popular with younger consumers – unveiled its own made-to-fit private label T-shirts, jeans and business suits as it pushes deeper into web-based apparel sales. The clothes are meant to be sold to customers using a body-scanning suit and app developed by the company.
By photographing themselves wearing the skintight polka-dot Zozosuit, users can upload their body measurements to ensure a perfect fit for the clothes they order.
Selling clothing online has been a big challenge for web retailers because sizes, colours and looks are hard to gauge on the web. Sellers often offer free returns to spur purchases, but that also drives up costs and risks alienating customers. Now the company’s billionaire founder Yusaku Maezawa is betting that his strategy of offering made-to-fit apparel will help it expand overseas and quintuple its market capitalisation in the next decade.
Some of its clothing items are currently available in 72 countries outside Japan. "Anyone in the world can relate to worries about clothing size," Maezawa said. "When we looked overseas, we couldn't find any companies that were offering lower-cost clothing that fit well. There was a need for that."
Amazon. com, which has been making an aggressive push into online apparel, last year bought Body Labs, a 3-D body-scanning start-up that lets people create a digital avatar of themselves to try on virtual clothes.
The key to a perfect fit with the firm’s new clothing line hinges on the Zozosuit, a polka-dot studded bodysuit that lets users measure their proportions with a smartphone camera.
The company created a unit Start Today Research this year to acquire ideas and technologies related to fashion and clothing fit. It also made headlines in Japan in April when it offered annual salaries of as much as 100 million yen (€770,000) to find employees specialising in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics and cryptography. – Bloomberg/Reuters