Everything is possible at our fingertips these days. Technology and a lack of boundaries in the digital arena are opening space for new experiences, services, and products. Welcome to the internet jungle!
The digital world has been growing at a fast pace and, with the pandemic, it has received a big push. During the days of strict lockdown online shopping was mandatory if you wanted any new goods in your home beyond essential food and medical supplies. So even the most non-tech person had to learn to navigate in the virtual universe. A study by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that Americans spent US$791.7 billion during 2020 on e-commerce, a 32.4% growth when compared to 2019. This behaviour means that e-commerce accounted for 14% of total retail sales, compared to 11% in 2019. Most of the purchases were in the fields of groceries, home improvement products and items to help relieve boredom during lockdowns, such as sporting goods and musical instruments. Together with articles to keep people distracted while staying at home, many virtual services were also required. Learning a new language was one of them. According to data compiled by the free language app Duolingo, 30 million people attempted to learn a new language in the weeks after the world was forced into lockdown. With all the new instruments that were bought, the need for virtual teachers increased. According to Yamaha, 75% of Britons turned to music as a hobby during this period. Music teachers from all over the globe took the opportunity to offer their expertise in video classes and online teaching.
Amazon.com and eBay launched their sites in 1995 and Alibaba in 1999. The culture of buying online started there and just grew exponentially. The website digitalintheround.com predicts that in 2021 there will be anywhere between 12 to 24 million online shops. It is difficult to keep up with numbers, many companies are going out of business, and new shops are popping up out of necessity and change. In the fashion world, online shopping has been part of people’s lives for a long time. Designers have their collections available in the multi-brands marketplace, such as Tryano, Netaporter, Theoutnet and many more.
About 10 years ago, subscriptions boxes such as Stich Fix and Franck and Oak appeared in the market and, with them, services such as virtual personal styling. A form with private information from measurements to taste has to be filled and a selection of clothing and accessories is sent to you.
Some of them even offer virtual styling consultations. The idea of having someone helping you sort your wardrobe out is an exciting one, and there are personal stylists out there that have turned their services full-on virtual with a comprehensive step-by-step system.
Technological tools have been key in the transformation of the fashion scenario. Companies like Zozo, MTailor and MySizeID have an even more audacious approach when it comes to the personalisation of your closet. The Japanese fashion retailer Zozo invested in a body-measuring suit and app. The measurements are taken from a tracking-dot covered body stocking. The improved version from the first model, the Zozosuit 2, can generate precise 3D body models with a simple and intuitive scanning process using your phone and is available for business partnerships. The American company MTailor does not use a bodysuit, but its app system calculates the measurements through your phone camera and sells you fitted T-shirts, shirts, jeans, and suits. The promise is a perfect fitting, no matter your body shape.
Another app that uses a patented algorithm to take measurements is MySizeID, it uses technology already available in mobile phones without accessing the camera. “There are no pictures taken. It is completely private,” said MySizeID CEO Ronen Luzon. The app offers a solution for online shoppers and retailers alike. MySizeID lets consumers create an online profile of their measurements, which can then be used with partnered online retailers to ensure that the consumers get the right fit, no matter the manufacturer or size chart. With this technology, no one will be small, medium or large anymore, and clothes will have the main purpose of representing someone’s style — a big step forward in the fashion world.
In the beauty scenario, the in-person factor is fundamental. You can watch tutorials online on how to give yourself a haircut but having this service through virtual reality is still not possible. Hairklinikken, a hair clinic founded in Denmark at the beginning of the ‘90s, and now with locations all over the globe, has an innovative way of offering virtual hair consultations. It does sound tricky, but we spoke with Lars Skjøth, Hairklinikken Founder and Lead Researcher, who told us about how they have been exploring the digital field and offering their tailor-made services. “For over 10 years, Harklinikken has been servicing clients virtually to help individuals who are unable to visit one of our clinics. It has always been a goal of mine to make effective hair care solutions accessible. Once the pandemic temporarily closed our physical clinics, safety and self-care became the primary concerns for our clients and us. Thankfully, we already had a lot of experience in the virtual scene, and all worked out well,” says Lars. A virtual consultation with a Harklinikken specialist begins on FaceTime or Zoom video call, with a detailed review of the client’s hair history and is followed by a thorough analysis of the hair and scalp. Photos from different angles and specific hair partitions are requested. If the specialist concludes that the Harklinikken Hair Extract formula (100% personalised and handblended) is a good option for you, a programme with the brand’s product regime to meet your specific needs is created.
“While we prefer to have the opportunity to invite people into our physical clinics, after years of experience in virtual consultations, we have finetuned the process to service the clients to achieve the best results possible,” highlights Lars. “The response from our customers about our remote appointments has been overwhelmingly positive. Our new clients were thrilled to hear that they can have access to Harklinikken specialists and good-quality hair care from the comfort and safety of their homes. So many have commented that this is the first time they felt listened to when opening up about their concerns on hair thinning,” he adds.
When asked if he believes that people have been more open to trying online services with the pandemic, Lars said that with the continued technological advancements, their virtual department has been experiencing steady growth for many years, but the pandemic indeed yielded a significant rise in traffic. Whether you love or hate technology, little by little, it will enter your life and make it easier and more connected with every corner of the world and allow you to experience an abundance of services.