Urban lifestyle clothier FUBU expects the online modeling technology it recently deployed at its Y2G.com clothing site for teens and young adults could increase sales by 10%, Bill Copen, CEO of Y2G.com, tells internetretailer.com. In that event, the technology will pay for itself, he says.
Y2G.com researched the use of imaging technology to allow online shoppers to see how clothes fit. It found a high level of interest among customers. But it felt at the time that the models were not reflective of its urban, largely African-American audience. "If we want to give people the ability to see their virtual selves, the representation must be realistic," Copen says. "It can’t be an insult to their intelligence."
Y2G.com asked My Virtual Model Inc., developer of the technology, to come up with a model that represented its audience, Copen says. "They spent way more time than they anticipated, but eight months later they had developed a set of models that represented our niche," he says.
Y2G.com deployed the modeling technology a week before Christmas to test it with its audience but without risking a major shopping period if there were glitches. Copen says initial results were favorable and that Y2G.com probably will integrate the My Virtual Model technology more deeply into the site when it does a re-design with spring merchandise in January.
The adoption of online modeling technology is part of a move by Y2G.com to make its site more lifelike. It is planning to use more real models to display merchandise, rather than mannequins, and will return to a previous strategy of using celebrities to model clothing, Copen says. Y2G.com in the past has used such stars as L.L. Cool J. to model apparel.
Y2G.com hosts 3 million unique visitors a year, Copen says, spending an average of 30 to 40 minutes a month at the site. About half go to Y2Gshop.com to shop. The site does about $1 million a year. While that’s only a small portion of FUBU’s $300 million to $400 million a year in retail and wholesale sales, Copen says, "For an e-commerce site that wasn’t promoted, we’re comfortable with that."