I wrote a quick piece on Virtusize a week or so ago and how I think they are solving a real problem/pain point for customers which always helps when building a company. I followed up with Gustaf Tunhammar the CEO of Virtusize for an interview as I was interested in finding out more about the company, where they’re at and where they’re going.
Hi Gustaf. Thanks for the interview. First off, what brought upon this idea and your unique solution to it?
We shopped a lot of clothes online, often from the US and other foreign countries. The process was already then quite smooth, a part from the fact that the clothes rarely fit as expected. Even when you followed the size charts you ended up with something far tighter, or looser, than expected. We realised that the reason size charts didn’t work very well is because they are based on recommendations. Since size and fit preferences are highly subjective, any recommendation solution is bound to fail.
We started out by experimenting with virtual mannequins but soon realized that such a solution wouldn’t scale due to the amount of data needed on every single garment. Also, the virtual mannequins aren’t very accurate since they fail to highlight the nuances of a garment and illustrate how it would fit in reality. We had noticed that many of the top sellers at eBay provided detailed measurements of their clothes. The addition of a garment’s size dimensions enabled you to compare these measurements to a piece of clothing you already owned. After all, your own clothing seemed like a logical and natural reference point. We started to wonder: what if we used the same concept but made it visual by overlaying garments silhouettes on screen? So we started working with some great pattern makers and online retail stores on our idea. In Autumn 2011, Virtusize was born.
So, who are the competitors in this space?
Fits.me has some traction with their mechanical torso. TrueFit and Clothes Horse are two US based recommendation engines with a couple of clients. So far we are the only ones doing a 2D comparison of garments and we are convinced that it is the most accurate way to communicate fit.
What is the business/revenue model?
Currently we offer a subscription model based on the number of product page views and the level of customization.
This is a really cool idea, but are customers using it?
On average 1/5 who opens Virtusize continues and creates a reference garment. This figure has doubled since our first version and we are constantly working on improving the process and making it easier to get started with Virtusize. We currently have over 20,000 garments in our database so chances are quite high that a customer can find something they already own. If you can’t find an item to tag you will have to measure an item at home. This process takes a couple of minutes but you only need to do it once and compared to the hassle of returning an item that didn’t fit, it’s time well invested. Our challenge lays in communicating this to the user in a quick and easy to understand way.
What’s next and how are you going to grow this into the best company it can be?
Virtusize will be more integrated in the different technologies and systems that the retailers use: backend systems, web shop platforms and production systems. We are already working on this for some clients. The deeper integration enables Virtusize to develop more exciting features both to the web shops and to the consumers. Virtusize will also be available in more stages of the purchase process.
Thanks very much Gustaf!