While making shopping stupid easy sounds like a futuristic dream, the creators of the website Fitbay believe that it can be a reality, with the help of social networking. Fitbay plans to harness the power of our online participation to segment users with similar body types and style preferences into small groups. It hopes users will offer factual brand and fit information that will be helpful to others with similar dimensions and shopping habits. Basically, Fitbay aims to make that will-it-won't-it fit experience a thing of the past.
Too good to be true? A shopper’s paradise? Read on to learn more from CEO Christian Wylonis and then decide for yourself whether you'll ever need to step foot in a fitting room again.
Does Fitbay go beyond just filtering products? And, how does it account for the problem with variations in fit and sizing between brands?
"Fitbay is a new type of social network that connects people with their 'body doubles,' i.e. people that share similar height, weight, and body type. Our users share products and brand sizes that fit them and, in return, get more accurate brand and size recommendations. This is what creates the personalized shopping experience where everything is in the right size... Behind the scenes, we also have an advanced sizing engine that can predict users' sizes based on information generated by their body doubles."
Would you issue a refund in the event that a user purchases a garment that turns out not to fit the way the site claimed it would?
"At some point we may decide to do this. Right now, we can't, because it would require direct agreements with the web shops that we redirect our users to. We are a community for sharing clothes that fit, which means that everything is based on crowdsourced information; so we can't guarantee 100% accuracy. We have, however, not experienced any problems with false information so far."
"This is, of course, something we can't avoid 100% but we do several things to minimize the problem as much as possible. First of all, we use big data analytics on the sizing information in order to validate size and product recommendations. Users can also help us remove false information by flagging items that are clearly wrong. We also manually check a lot of the data to see which users are adding wrong information. Luckily, this has not been an issue for us thus far."
What makes Fitbay different from similar websites?
"There are a lot of virtual fitting rooms out there, but we believe that they are fundamentally trying to solve the problem in the wrong way. They are trying to replicate the experience of a fitting room online by measuring your body and/or clothes. The process of measuring is very time-consuming and inaccurate, which is why we wanted to avoid this process altogether. Also, it is very frustrating to go through the virtual fitting room process only to find out that the clothes [don't] fit you. That's why our solution is to only show clothes that fit...without EVER using measuring tapes. We believe that the solution is to remove the need for fitting rooms altogether — not replicating a fitting room online."
Will you be selling clothing directly on your site or will users be directed to the specific store's site?
"Fitbay is a discovery site that directs users to stores where they can buy the clothes — think Pinterest for finding clothes that fit. We want to make sure that it's easy to buy the clothes once you discover something you like."
Two people could be the same height and weight, and have a similar body type (like hourglass or apple), but still prefer their clothes to fit differently. How will you differentiate between those who prefer things fitted and those who prefer garments to be looser?
"Great question. We account for this in two ways. One: When users share products we ask them to describe how the product fits them. We have designed three fit questions per clothing category that users answer when they add the product. For example, when you add a top you describe the fit across the chest, waist, and length. This allows users to see how the product fits. Two: We adjust a user's recommendations based on the products and sizes they add themselves... For example, when a user adds her favorite H&M top in size small (which fits her tightly), we determine what other brand sizes have been recommended by other people who also like H&M tops in size small. The more products and brands a user adds, the more accurate the recommendations get."
What is your ultimate end goal for Fitbay?
"Our ultimate goal with Fitbay is to help people discover clothes that fit everywhere — on Fitbay, on other web shops, and even offline. Imagine having the Fitbay personal shopper with you when you're browsing your favorite online clothes store, or imagine walking into your local Ralph Lauren store and receiving product recommendations in the right size directly on your smartphone. That's the ultimate vision for Fitbay."