A $500bn Opportunity Awaits—How Fit Technology Will Make The Fashion Industry More Sustainable.

·      Nearly three-fifths of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being produced, according to a report released by McKinsey. More than $500 billion of value is lost every year because of clothing that is seldom worn and rarely recycled.

·      A study by Quantis cites that more than 8 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by the apparel and footwear industries.

·      The fashion industry has grown at 5.5 percent annually, according to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index, to now be worth an estimated $2.4 trillion.

In short, the fashion industry is booming but it’s also sorely lacking in sustainable practices. Here is where fit technology can add value. After all, according to McKinsey, “Fast fashion is now a large, sophisticated business fed by a fragmented and relatively low-tech production system.” Incorporating fit technology, especially with regards to the online apparel eCommerce, companies can drastically reduce unnecessary production (which might just end up in landfills) and streamline their production process. By innovating using technology and optimizing their supply chain, apparel businesses can reduce wasteful resource usage and have a positive impact on both their business and the environment.

By leveraging fit technology to reduce returns, the significant costs of transporting and processing those returned clothing are saved, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping back the returns. Saved resources can also be refocused on growing the business.

Consider that up to 25% of returned items end up not back at the stores but in landfills, without ever having been used, which adds up to about over 5 billion pounds of goods that end up in landfills a year from returns (CNBC.com). And if you consider that eCommerce clothing returns can be as high as 40%, then that’s a lot of new clothes going straight to the dump.  Incorporating a smart size chart or an A.I-driven size recommender can help address this issue by helping customers find better fitting clothing and cutting down on fit-related returns.

These same online platforms can also harness AI technologies to make relevant business decisions, improving their supply chain from design to distribution. According to The State of Fashion 2018, “… an AI-based approach could also reduce forecasting errors by up to 50 percent, while overall inventory reductions of 20 to 50 percent are feasible.” Similarly, the data collected through consumer preferences around sizing and feedback from returns can also be leveraged to help manage production. Apparel Insights™, is a technology tool provided by fit technology company Bold Metrics that enables companies to harness their fit data to create actionable insights driven by real data and sizing analytics.

Conclusion: Fit technology is a no-brainer when it comes to helping make your online fashion business more sustainable. It impacts returns, resources, and the supply chain. It also improves customer satisfaction by making the shopping experience more personalized and less frustrating (yeah, those standardized size charts really don’t work). So why wait to incorporate it? After all, a $500 billion opportunity awaits.

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