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Asos has launched augmented reality (AR) technology to allow customers to see what clothes might look on their body type, with models currently unable to attend its studios for photoshoots to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The See My Fit AR technology, developed by Zeekit, was being trialled by the brand in early 2020, and digitally shows customers what an outfit might look like by superimposing the clothes onto six real-life models representing different body types.
Tim Carey, senior content manager at Asos Studios, said: “We are fortunate enough to have been experimenting with Zeekit’s AR technology for a while, which has meant we could scale this tech up at short notice. It’s a great tool for us to have at our disposal, helping us drop new items on site each week and provide customers with realistic product images in a studio setting, while protecting the wellbeing of our models and staff.”
Usually, models will visit studios at the Asos offices to be photographed in garments or with products, to produce images for the retailer’s site and app. But to allow for social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak, the online retailer is using the See My Fit technology to show customers how new products will look, so there is no need for models to visit the studios.
Asos has also asked models and “Asos insiders” to take product pictures from home, has used images of items on hangers rather than models, and has implemented a number of other social distancing measures across its offices and fulfilment centres.
The AR technology takes into account a product’s size and cut to digitally show how each of the models would look wearing a particular garment. The brand will add up to 500 products a week using this technology.
Yael Vizel, CEO at Zeekit, the firm that created the software, said: “At Zeekit, we are excited to combine our passion and expertise for high-quality digital dress-up with care for social distancing and public health. Digital dress-up brings to life the powerful capabilities of generating beautiful fashion content with the click of a button, on any real-life model or customer – without leaving home.”
The coronavirus outbreak has led to some retailers, particularly supermarkets, doing what they can to ensure online ordering and delivery are sustainable during a period of increased online orders while people stay at home.
It has also led to an increase in technology used to keep staff connected at a time when physical locations may be shut and people are increasingly working from home.
But Asos was implementing or testing a number of technological advancements well before the world was essentially shut down because of the pandemic.
Last year, the retailer launched a Virtual Catwalk feature on its app which allows consumers to virtually view models wearing certain products on a catwalk.
The brand also introduced its Fit Assistant feature to give customers an idea of what garment size they should choose based on their details.
Features such as Your Edit, which shows goods that a consumer might like; Style Match, which recommends matching products based on past purchases; and You Might Also Like, a curated product carousel based on a customer’s interests, have also been implemented by Asos to make the app experience more personalised.
The retailer has also launched a natural language chatbot on Facebook Messenger called Enki and voice search on Google Assistant, both of which allow customers to navigate products via non-traditional browsing methods.
But while Asos has attempted to keep employees safe by reducing the need for models to visit its studios, its decision to keep warehouses operating has not been without criticism.
The GMB trade union, which does not represent Asos staff, recently wrote to the retailer after reports of confirmed cases of Covid-19 among employees at the Asos Barnsley warehouse.
The union claimed that some Asos warehouse workers have not felt safe at work during the outbreak, with GMB organiser Will Dalton calling for “adequate PPE [personal protective equipment]” for staff, and for the warehouse to be closed for a deep clean following confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Asos has a number of measures in place to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as reduced shift numbers, social distancing measures and increased hygiene and cleaning measures. Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council said in a statement that confirmed cases among the Asos workforce “does not necessarily mean they contracted it at work”.
An Asos spokesperson said: “As this global crisis progresses, it is clear no community is insusceptible to coronavirus and, like many others, we, too, have been impacted, with a small number of confirmed cases. That said, there is no evidence to suggest these cases were contracted in the warehouse and the percentage of our team impacted is significantly lower than the national average and for that of the Barnsley metropolitan area, within which our site is based.
“Of the nine people affected, close to half had not been on site for more than two weeks before testing positive for the virus, and all have self-isolated at home, in line with government guidance. We remain in contact with them and wish them well with their recovery.
“Given the warehouse’s size and scale, its level of automation and the extra, industry-leading health and safety measures we have put in place since the start of the pandemic, it remains a safe place to work. We and XPO Logistics, which manages the site on our behalf, are monitoring the situation closely and have taken further precautionary measures.
“This includes contact tracing – asking anyone who was in contact with the individual to monitor themselves for symptoms – and ensuring any areas where the individuals have been are cleaned as part of an enhanced hygiene programme.”
The spokesperson added: “As the health and wellbeing of our staff is our number one priority, we are maintaining our social distancing protocols, which in many areas exceed the latest government guidelines issued this week, and communicating regularly with staff, the recognised union, Community, and the environmental health officer, who has visited the site and verified our approach numerous times over the past six weeks.
“Since these cases came to light, we have proactively contacted the local environmental health office to provide a detailed briefing on the situation.”