Fitting into the schoolwear sector
New mobile and online app helps consumers “buy best fit” schoolwear.
By Laura Turner
16 December 2013
The new schoolwear app from global apparel sizing and fit expert Alvanon is the result of years of research worldwide into real human shapes and sizes. Most recently, the company analysed the 3D body shape scans of 2,500 children aged between four and 17 in England, Scotland and Wales as part of the Shape GB children’s sizing survey, a collaborative project with survey specialist Select Research. This data, combined with Alvanon’s existing database of UK children’s body scans, has enabled the company to develop its AlvaKids app for school uniforms.
The AlvaKids app for children’s fashion was launched in November 2012, and in trials at New York department store Cookie’s Kids, 97 per cent of parents surveyed said they would “recommend others to use the app”, 90 per cent said they would be “more confident to shop for childrenswear without their children”, and 72 per cent said they would “share their children’s profiles with family and friends to enable them to buy the right sized clothes for their children”.
AlvaKids is available to consumers as a free download app from the Apple Store and as an online widget to major childrenswear high-street and online retail groups, with the Android version available in mid-December. The widget will allow retailers and brands to create brand-specific sizing recommendations for consumers in-store and on their e-commerce websites.
The principle of AlvaKids is that parents build a simple body shape profile for each child by entering key data points in the AlvaKids mobile app, or through a retailer’s e-commerce website. The data is used by AlvaKids proprietary algorithm to create a personalised sizing recommendation for any of the brands contained in the database, although users will also be able to suggest new brands to add to the system. A key feature of the app is that once the child’s profile has been created, the personal data in the profile will grow automatically with the child, so accurate size recommendations can be accessed both now and in the future.
Now, Alvanon is including school uniform in its remit, following the company’s debut at this year’s Schoolwear Show held at Cranmore Park, Solihull, in October. Alvanon previewed one of its latest projects, AlvaKids for School Uniforms, which is the UK’s first dedicated garment sizing mobile phone and online application for school uniform.
Alvanon’s director of research and development, Jonathan Wang, heads the company’s newest consumer mobile and e-commerce applications, including AlvaKids for School Uniforms, and was in attendance at the Schoolwear Show to present the application and gain direct feedback from those working in the schoolwear sector. “During the show we met over 200 schoolwear professionals,” says Wang. “The discussions we had with them significantly enhanced our understanding of this specialist sector, and confirmed that our AlvaKids product has a crucial role to play in delivering a better fit experience for schoolwear retailers, brands, parents and of course their children.”
Visitors to the Schoolwear Show were privy to live demonstrations of AlvaKids for School Uniforms throughout the show but, essentially, the application is designed to help consumers buy the right size school clothing for their children, either in-store or online via a mobile phone, computer or tablet. The process is simple – consumers obtain AlvaKids for School Uniforms as a free download app from the Apple Store, input their child’s – or children’s – birthday, height, weight and body shape into the app, which results in a recommendation for the “right size” garment to buy for that child. The application aims to save consumers time and enhance the schoolwear shopping experience by recommending the right size to buy from the UK’s most popular uniform names, with AlvaKids for School Uniforms being launched as an online widget to major schoolwear suppliers, later in the year.
“The schoolwear retailers and suppliers, even the schools, understood the AlvaKids concept and recognised that by offering the app or widget to their customers, they could reduce the time and frustration that so often accompanies a visit to the school uniform outfitters,” says Wang. “They also liked the idea that the fit aspects of the online widget would facilitate more accurate ordering and reordering, while also significantly reducing costly postal returns due to ill fit. The ‘look’ of the app was also popular, and the feedback was that it is a ‘simple’ and ‘engaging’ device to use.”
The pull for schoolwear retailers is the benefit from increased customer satisfaction and fewer garment returns due to ill-fitting items. Improved confidence for shoppers helps increase customer loyalty, leading to increased conversion sales, decreased product returns due to wrong sizing, as well as enhanced insights into consumers.
“We are currently in ongoing talks with around 30 independent schoolwear retailers,” says Wang. “The first step will be for interested parties to test and pilot the AlvaKids app in their own unique retail service environments – and we are in those preliminary discussions now.”
In terms of how AlvaKids will evolve, it was always the intention of founder, and father of Jonathan, Dr Kenneth Wang that access to the correct fit should be ultimately controlled – and led – by the consumer. “AlvaKids is a consumer product, and our focus is to get as many consumers using the AlvaKids app and online widget as possible,” says Jonathan Wang. “The app is free to consumers from the Apple Store, and if retailers and brands also incorporate the online widget as part of the website experience, they will achieve better engagement with their customers. For our part, we will continually renew the list of schoolwear suppliers so users can access their fit across any brand.”
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