Denim brand Levi Strauss and Co. is adding more digital tools to help customers find the right size jeans, as part of its mandate to increase direct-to-consumer sales.
On Tuesday, the company announced two new digital fit features on its site: a predictive fit algorithm and a bank of product photos on people of different body types. The features are currently in a pilot phase, but will launch more widely on desktops in six European countries and on the US mobile app in June this year.
Levi’s has made growing its direct-to-consumer business a priority area over the past few years, with CEO Chip Bergh telling CNBC that “we’re going to be led by DTC going forward” in April last year. . Bergh added that he hopes DTC sales will account for 60% of revenue in 2021, although the segment eventually edged closer to 40% of revenue. But with more direct-to-consumer sales, brands – especially apparel ones – will have to spend more money processing returns. As a result, brands like Levi’s and Nike have invested more in digital sizing tools in recent years.
Lara Lasisz, head of direct-to-consumer innovation at Levi Strauss & Co, told Modern Retail that Levi’s recognizes that fit can vary across styles and that shopping online can be difficult for consumers. “Consumers are looking to retailers to solve this hurdle,” Lasisz said.
In response, Levi’s invested in a predictive algorithm called “What’s My Size”, where shoppers enter their weight, height and gender and receive a size prediction. “The algorithm will recommend the best size to select based on knowledge of Levi’s sizing charts as well as an understanding of consumer body measurements,” Lasisz said.
Along with this functionality, the company also deploys a more elaborate tool: “See It In My Size”. After clicking the View in my size button on certain product pages, shoppers receive more photos highlighting how items look on someone with a more similar image. Cut, height, body shape and skin tone.
“Inclusiveness and representation are key to building deep connections with today’s consumers,” Lasisz said. “When our fans shop online, they want to see a reflection of themselves and someone who has a similar body type.”
To get the large amounts of photos needed for the feature, the brand tapped into both its workforce of more than 3,100 stores and boutiques globally, as well as its base of micro-influencers.
Employees were asked to submit a photo in Levi’s clothing for a voucher and – at select retail stores – could participate in an in-store photo shoot. “As soon as we sent the email to our team requesting participation, we covered almost every size within an hour,” Lasisz said.
The brand has also worked with customization company Reflektme to bring micro influences to select stores for additional shots. “By working with micro-influencers and our own employee base, we were able to capture a diverse range of sizes, heights, body types and skin tones,” Lasisz said.
The feature can also help the retailer with online returns issues. In a feature launch blog post, Levi’s pointed out that 40% of online returns are due to sizing and fit issues.
Erin Schmidt, senior analyst at Coresight Research, said: “Because sizes vary from retailer to retailer, many consumers often order multiple sizes and return the mismatched sizes, which is a cost to retailers. and a burden on consumers.
Schmidt added that these fit issues could be particularly prominent in the denim category. “There are a lot of consumer decisions, including size, length, flare, pocket width, amount of stretch, and color,” Schmidt said.
Levi’s isn’t the only brand adopting fit tools to grow its DTC channel. In 2019, Nike unveiled Nike Fit, a computer vision and machine learning tool to help consumers measure their feet through a smartphone camera for better sizing. At the time, Nike’s global head of digital products, Michael Martin, said the sneaker giant hoped Nike Fit would fix a number of issues. Specifically, it would help Nike reduce returns and get a better idea of what sizes it should wear for specific styles.
Like Levi’s, Nike’s investment in fit technology coincides with an increased focus on its direct-to-consumer business. During Nike’s third fiscal quarter results presentation in March, the retailer revealed that Nike Direct sales were up 17% year-over-year, accounting for 42% of total Nike sales.
Other retailers, meanwhile, are partnering with tech startups to address sizing issues. Big box retailer Walmart announced a partnership with virtual dressing room technology platform Zeekit in March and eventually acquired the startup in May. Similar to Levi’s, Walmart will offer a larger bank of more inclusive designs to help visualize how clothes might look on them.
Lasisz said there was “no one-size-fits-all solution to the entire online scaling challenge,” but said the company is considering several ways to help customers scale online.
“We also learned from previous tests that while some digital renders can help, sometimes it’s much more effective and appreciated to show real people wearing real clothes,” Lasisz said. “Right now, we’re testing What’s My Size and See It In My Size to see what will resonate with our fans as we continue to test new technologies.”