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By uploading two selfies, Zalando shoppers now get better sizing recommendations

For all of its convenience, shopping for clothes online continues to have a major sticking point: sizing. Hoping to increase the success rate of purchases, online retailer Zalando has introduced a tool that provides size recommendations based on consumers' body measurements. But customers don't have to take out a measuring tape and decide which part of their hips or waist to wrap it around.

All the new feature requires is two photos taken by a customer while wearing tight-fitting clothing. After they upload their pics, Zalando can predict their body measurements and deliver personalized sizing advice. According to the German retailer, no other platform has introduced a similar feature at this scale (Zalando operates across Europe, with revenues of EUR 10.3 billion in 2022).

First rolling out in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the tool is expected to alleviate issues with size-related returns, particularly in women's tops and dresses — a category known for sizing discrepancies. The company will later expand to other markets and more clothing categories.

The new selfie-based sizing feature is based on Zalando's own technology and that developed by Fision, the Swiss maker of a body measurement app acquired by Zalando in 2020. Future enhancements are said to include the creation of 3D avatars based on customers' actual body shapes, for a more personalized and realistic virtual fitting experience.

Trend Bite

Unsure of whether to get a medium or large, many online shoppers order multiple sizes to try them on at home and return whatever doesn't fit. It's a practice known as bracketing, and a 2022 survey by Narvar found that 63% of shoppers purposefully buy various sizes with the intent to return.

The more accurate Zalando's new selfie-sizing feature becomes, the more likely consumers are to start trusting its recommendations on which size to buy, lowering the numbers of bracketed orders and the high cost of returns for the retailer. Beyond financial implications, there's an environmental imperative, too — if returns show any damage, they won't be resold. By reducing the volume of size-related returns, Zalando expects to decrease overall textile waste. Its data could also help on the design end by providing apparel brands with better insights into actual customer measurements.