If the CEO of Presize has his way, clothing returns will be a relic of the past, and online retail brands will not sacrifice business for the sake of the environment.
The startup’s cloud-based app uses artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate clothing sizes for individual online shoppers. Much more than welcome relief for anyone who has ever hesitated to buy clothing online because they were uncertain of their size, the tool reduces size-related product returns by 50% on average.
“Sustainability is core to our mission,” said Leon Szeli, co-founder and CEO. “Every product return we save is a win for the consumer, the brand, and the planet. Every item of clothing that consumers scan using our app means fewer returns. This contributes to a lower carbon footprint for the planet, less time wasted for shoppers, and greater cost-savings for retail brands.”
Sustainability Is the Perfect Fit for Online Shopping
Based in Germany, Presize serves well-known clothing apparel brands in that country and throughout Western Europe. Its online sizing tool has provided half a million recommendations to delighted consumers. Instead of second-guessing ambiguous size charts, shoppers simply click on the “find my size” button, answer basic questions that include their height, weight, and gender, upload a video of themselves if they choose, and then the algorithm provides their best size for that product. Behind the scenes, AI-fueled algorithms learn from dynamic data analyses.
“We constantly train the algorithm using data from hundreds of thousands of human shapes and other variables, plus stock-keeping units (SKUs) from clothing manufacturers, and layer that with product return information,” Szeli said. “Once someone saves their size ID, it can be applied to any brand that uses the Presize app, making shopping much easier. Shoppers can even share their size information with family and friends.”
According to Szeli, online retailers that use the Presize app on their website have increased conversion rates, meaning consumer sales, by up to 25%. As with any AI-based tool, user adoption is critical for calculation accuracy. Szeli said that approximately 10% of shoppers use the tool when it is available on a brand’s site.
“A big part of sizing uncertainty is the diversity between brands, Szeli explained. “Every product is different, and we want to help consumers regardless of what brand of clothing they buy.”
Digital Insights for Sustainable Results
Presize is the culmination of Szeli’s two major career passions: conducting research and having a positive impact on the world. As a university student in the U.S. and the UK, he focused on human trust in AI-based technology. However, he quickly realized that he wanted to accomplish much more than producing papers for niche audiences. When he met his co-founders, who were working with computer vision and AI, they embarked on a journey to literally change the world – beginning with online shopping.
“I wanted to do something entrepreneurial that would have a much wider impact and change people’s lives for the better,” Szeli said. “I saw the problem of product returns as a sustainability issue that wasted environmental resources, as well as time and money for businesses and their customers.”
SAP.iO Fosters Collaborative Innovation
Szeli valued the insights his team walked away with after participating in the SAP.iO Foundry Munich accelerator program in fall 2019, particularly around go-to-market and sales practices involving large enterprise customers. He was equally excited about future potential opportunities to integrate Presize capabilities into SAP S/4HANA, the company’s intelligent suite of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.
“SAP is one of the most successful business to business (B2B) software companies in the world, and learning new ways to market and sell complex software to numerous stakeholders – including how to shorten sales cycles – was the biggest takeaway for us,” Szeli said. “We’re actively exploring how we can continue to work together.”
Sustainability in Numbers
The pandemic has only boosted e-commerce. Recent IDC research found that consumers increased online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic by 90%, and that may not be a temporary blip. The same surveyed consumers expected to continue shopping more online post-COVID-19 than pre-pandemic – even more reason to keep digitizing the shopping experience with tools like Presize. In many ways, Szeli sees the opportunity as a numbers game.
“Product returns are incredibly inefficient, multiplying the monetary and environmental costs of shipping and repackaging,” he said. “Sometimes companies end up throwing away returned clothing because it’s less expensive short term. We want to reach as many brands and their consumers as possible, and we’re aiming to offer people the right size for one billion products by 2023.”
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This article originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.