Buying apparel online? Thank an Israeli programmer. Image via Shutterstock.com
Open any browser and you’ll see new fash-tech, fashion-preneurs and e-commerce retail sites popping up as the Web – and especially social media – has become a crucial place to market and sell products.
Shopping malls still attract the majority of fashion seekers, but market research shows that online apparel is the fastest-growing e-commerce category in North America and Europe. By 2016, the apparel-and-accessories sector will account for $73 billion worth of online purchases in the United States alone, according to eMarketer.
“That’s the reason so many are jumping on this train — to catch up,” says Dalit Braun, CEO of Pickn’Tell – an omni-channel mobile solution that combines shopping with social networking.
“About five years ago, people said no one would be shopping on e-commerce but today it’s the fastest-growing platform,” she tells ISRAEL21c.
Take a closer look at the origins of the startups and applications helping to power the global fashion e-commerce trend, and you’ll find a bouquet of blue-and-white technology behind the code.
“Israelis are very creative people, and so is fashion. I think it is the perfect combination between the ‘serious’ techie part of entrepreneurship and the fun/creative/light part of it,” says Yael Kochman, organizer of the Fash & Tech Meetup group in Israel.
“Fash-Tech brings innovation into the most day-to-day activity we all do — and makes the dressing-up experience better through technology,” Kochman tells ISRAEL21c.
Technology is disrupting the fashion industry on multiple levels: personal styling online, indie boutique access via social media sites, connecting the retailer to a mobile community, interface experiences, customized clothing, fashion e-commerce, virtual fitting rooms, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.
You’ll find Israeli companies on all these platforms.
Personal styling in social circles
Just like people like to shop with friends in real life, they like to hear what others think about their online style choices.
“Professional styling might be good for celebrities, but for us common people, we want to know what people like us recommend and we also want to give them our opinion on what they are wearing,” says Kochman.
WiShi, an online social media platform that allows users to share their real closets and get styled by the community-at-large, was launched in beta mode in August 2013 and quickly became a go-to site for American DIY fashionistas.
Mix&Wear is similar, but instead of uploading one’s own closet, users add fashion items from online stores to their profile and then ask for advice.
Konimee is an e-commerce solution with a social stylist twist. Users can view each other’s screens and offer feedback on potential purchases before they buy.
Then there’s Stylit, which unites its predictive technology platform with real stylists to give users head-to-toe outfit recommendations based on their preferences, budget, body type and size.
“Our stylists are experts in dressing every body type, from super slim to voluptuous plus sizes,” says Maya Kramer, Stylit’s chief stylist. “My team scours top brands every week to discover the best, most complimentary complete look for each style profile and body type.”
Chic or Shock is an interactive social fashion app that adds a splash of fun to social styling by asking a user’s social community to help rate outfits – chic or shock.
“Social media and fashion are such good companions because it gives people another outlet to showcase their style, to express themselves,” says Daina Reed, one of the co-founders of the Dreed*Tea blog that showcases Israeli design talent to the world.
“From the perspective of designers and brands, it’s the most perfect way to reach the customer directly. Brands can either use social media as a place to draw inspiration for new trends or use it to bring their products to the customers.”
Mobile fash-tech for retailers
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) is a growing niche within fashion e-commerce. And Israeli companies are helping retailers gain a first-class fashion presence on mobile.
Pickn’Tell uses revolutionary technology to connect retailers’ worlds of e-commerce, m-commerce and social networks with their CRM systems to create one streamlined mobile marketing channel.
Fashioholic is also an omni-channel that helps brands sell their wares through Serious Games.
StoreYa is a social commerce platform that offers retailers a solution for importing an online store into Facebook. The Herzliya-based company supports more than 20 sites including eBay, Magento, Etsy, Amazon and Shopify.
RotaryView helps e-commerce companies look better on mobile devices or computers. This free mobile app lets sellers post high-quality 360-degree views of their products.
Size me up
No one likes to shop online only to receive something that doesn’t fit well and has to be returned or exchanged. That’s why dozens of virtual sizing helper applications are popping up all the time, promising to make sure the first purchase is the right one.
FitFully is a Tel Aviv startup that creates a 3D foot model from a scanning technology using a smartphone camera. This technology then compares the model to various shoe brands and assures the virtual fit will also hold true in reality.
TripleNext Technologies is an Israeli startup with online retail solutions already being used by some of the biggest names in the sector including Shop Your Way. Its FindMyRingSize (findmyringsize.com) web-based software – which also runs on smartphones – is especially popular.
As for making sure the clothes you’ve selected will look as good on you as they do on your computer, choose between Zeekit — which lets you try new outfits on your own digital self– and the Rehovot-based Mipso, which has a cutting-edge technology that can accurately predict how any given garment will fit a consumer.
Mipso’s FiT technology lets shoppers enter a few measurements and then receive size recommendations tailored to each of the clothing companies’ products online. FiT also offers an in-store service that lets shoppers scan products to receive size recommendations.
“For the consumer, we create a fun experience,” says Igal Chemerinski, vice president of sales at Mipso, New York. ”For the retailers, it creates customer loyalty because the moment I have my measurements in a website I’m more likely to return for more.”
One checkout, please
Some Israeli fash-tech startups are focused on guiding shoppers through the maze of e-commerce websites.
“I think that over the next two years we should see even more fash-tech startups. Every week I get requests from new entrepreneurs in the field to join my group,” says Kochman of Israel’s Fash & Tech Meetup.
Why are so many Israeli startups fueling the fash-tech trend forward? Yaniv Nissim, CEO of Stylit, says it’s all about opportunity.
“The world’s women’s wear industry is expected to pass $621 billion in 2014. Even if you can provide a solution that reaches a small fraction of this market, it’s a goldmine,” Nissim tells ISRAEL21c.
“Israelis have a natural knack for seeing opportunity and going after it with both hands. There is so much room in this industry and so much to go around that it’s almost a no-brainer.”