Online retailers growing return problem is a huge opportunity for fashion tech startups. At a pitch night in San Francisco this week, the audience was told about virtual try-on, AI measurements, brand online analytics and, designers’ tools.

The startup pitch night – with focus on fashion and beauty tech – was held last Wednesday in downtown San Francisco, hosted by Silicon Valley Forum.

“Bad customer experiences, that is our business”, said Oh Tepmongkol-Wheaton, the co-founder of Ohzone.

Her story started after trying to find the right dress for her daughter. Together with a friend, she developed a 3D-platform that “brings garments to life” and makes it possible for the customer to virtually try a dress on before buying. 

In the US, at least every fourth order is returned, and the numbers are rising quickly. The major part of the goods returned are clothes that didn’t fit, had an unexpected color or didn’t look like the pictures. Most of the returns are not resold.

Another startup with a focus on reducing returns is BodyBlock AI. The company creates an avatar for each customer, that will help them find clothes that fit.

“Our technology allows us to fit the right body into the right size for every product regardless of body shape or size,” said Greg Moore, CEO of BodyBlock AI.

BodyBlock AI also offers body shape analytics to help brands analyze web performance from a new perspective. Once the Predict plugin is installed onto a retailer’s website, brands gain access insights on the body measurements of the customers visiting online stores. 

Camilla Olson, founder and CEO of Palo Alto-based Savitude, told the panel and the audience about their AI toolkit that helps the designer to create clothes for “a realistic customer population”.

“The fashion industry is focused only on idealized body shape thus leaving 80 percent of women without clothing that looks good on their body”, said Camilla Olson.

Silicon Valley venture capitalists are not known as fashionistas, but that could be about to change. Last year the app-powered bra seller ThirdLove, with headquarters in San Francisco, raised $55 million in venture funding. The former COO of Stitch Fix, that left the company before the IPO, raised $30 million for an AI-powered shopping platform that is expected to be launched this year.

By: Margaretha Levander