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Unprepared Ep 25 - Let Your Customers Try On Your Products Virtually with Lichota Seidewand

    Time Stamps:

    [00:00] - Intro
    [00:27] - Technologies being developed at Forma
    [01:08] - Is augmented reality the goal of Forma?
    [02:24] - For better fitting or for how it looks on you?
    [03:31] - Big brands that use Forma and similar technologies
    [04:55] - The complexities of Forma integration
    [05:58] - Image requirements to be “tryonable”
    [08:15] - Investing on technologies like Forma
    [09:38] - Where to find Lichota
    [09:58] - Sponsor: Rewind

    Resources:

    Key Points:

    • Forma works with fashion/apparel brands. They use their “computer vision technology” to implement digital dressing rooms on their clients’ Ecommerce stores.

    • Forma has 2 ways for implementing the digital dressing room. First, they give the customers the ability to upload their photo to see a clothing item on themselves, or an accurate model representation by choosing a model with their ethnicity, body size, etc.

    • Forma’s CTO and CEO came from the gaming space. They observed from online games that you can customize your character, but you can’t necessarily make your character exactly like you.

    • The ultimate goal of Forma is to give consumers the ability to create your own photorealistic avatar that you can take into digital spaces where you need it. This is the reason why Forma started with passion as it gives the best fit for their goal.

    • Forma hasn’t moved into implementing the 360 degree view yet as it involves a lot of physics and components.

    • Forma focuses purely on the visual aspect of garments. They don’t have the technology to integrate how the clothing items fit on consumers. But a lot of merchants and brands have asked that question to Forma before.

    • Forma partnered with Bold Metrics to accommodate the fitting needs for brands.

    • Confidence in fashion is one of the focuses of Forma. Their solution gives the consumer the ability to try on clothing to easily scope and check out different items that they previously might not usually look at, try out stuff at the comfort and privacy of their own home.

    • Forma’s big clients are in the bridal space such as Birdy Grey and Amsale.

    • Forma started mainly on IOS as a social app which serves as a marketplace for different kinds of clothing and studios.

    • After seeing what they like on the Forma app, consumers then went to purchase on each brand’s online store. Then the brands wanted to integrate Forma on their website as natural progression. So Forma implemented that strategy as well.

    • Online store integration with Forma is a different process from their app, but currently that is their focus.

    • The complexity of Forma integration depends on the platform that the brand is using. For Shopify, it’s fairly easy to install. No engineering required.

    • However, Forma integration can also be more complex the more SKUs that a brand has.

    • For the ingestion process of product SKUs, Forma can have 95% of a brand’s products “tryonable”

    • Forma has a post-production team and a graphic team to enhance the images.

    • What Forma can’t control is when a user submits a photo. They could have poor lighting or have an awkward pose. The post-production team tries to make the images high-quality thus mitigating the risk of poor user uploaded photos.

    • Shooting professional product photos and hiring models are expensive but it definitely gives you better results.

    • The best product photos that Forma uses are when the model is on the typical “A-Pose”: The model’s hands are by the sides and are standing straight on so that Forma’s team can see how the clothes hang on the body.

    • When a user wishes to try on a product, Forma gets the information from the product photo, separates the model and garment, then transfers the garment to the user submitted photo or the automatically populated avatars that Forma has.

    • If a user uploaded photo is turned to the side, Forma’s engine will try to “guess” what is the component that’s hiding behind a shadow.

    • For user uploaded photos, Forma recommends them to upload form fitting clothing or t-shirts and shorts.

    • If a user uploads a photo wearing a ski attire, Forma’s engine can’t properly identify where the user’s arms are, their skin color, etc. Forma mitigates those risks through user education.

    • Forma is still a young company so they are learning a lot from working with bigger brands and their clients’ user experiences.

    • Forma is free to install on Shopify. If you don’t require other services from Forma, they can produce 2 to 3 items per week for free.

    • Other stores prefer to invest in Forma to customize how it looks on their site. Forma can do it for them, but if the brand works with an agency or in-house developers, they can do that themselves through CSS.

    • The biggest price point in Forma factors in how much a brand turns over their clothing in SKU production.

    • Forma is relatively cheap and scalable. Their rule of thumb for pricing is about $10 per SKU. The more SKUs you have, the price per SKU goes down.

    • Forma is a subscription package. A lot of the initial work is upfront. After getting the SKUs ready and deployed, Forma then focuses on hosting the servers, updates, production quality

     

    Transcript:

    Chase Clymer  

    Alright everybody, welcome back to another episode of Unprepared. Today we've got an awesome guest with super crazy technology. So I'm super excited to kind of change it up and talk about the future of what's going on in e commerce. But today we welcome the show Lichota from Forma. How are you doing today?

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Everybody, pleasure to be here. Yeah, Lichota from Forma. Doing well. Crazy time in the world. So hopefully this can be kind of a brief pause for positivity to show kind of what's to come.

    Chase Clymer  

    Absolutely. So for people that are kind of unaware, like I was up until last week until you reached out, what is the technology that form is working on?

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yes, so we have a computer vision technology that allows fashion brands and apparel brands to actually implement digital dressing rooms on their e-commerce stores. 

    And what that is that means is that basically, whether you want to upload a photo of yourself and see a clothing item on yourself, or maybe you want a more accurate model representation of your ethnicity, your body size, you're able to actually see garments and clothing on different pictures than you currently can see on site.

    Chase Clymer  

    Cool. So I was playing around with the demo on the site. And I think I was actually the one I ended up playing around with. 

    But you could use some of the examples that were like pre uploaded, but then you could upload your own photo. 

    And I thought that was really cool. But it still takes it, it still does not take long at all just takes a few seconds to kind of render it over there is the goal to kind of go towards augmented reality. 

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah. So our founder, our both our founders, our CTO and our CEO are from a kind of gaming space. 

    And so if you can think of fortnight, any type of video game, you can kind of really create your own character, right, but it doesn't necessarily really look exactly like you. 

    So the ultimate goal, whether it's two years, 10 years from now is to kind of have your own photorealistic avatar that you can kind of take with you into different digital spaces. And so as of right now, naturally, the best fit is kind of fashion and e commerce, right? 

    It's very straightforward, we have not yet dove into the 360 view we're working on. And that takes a lot of different physics and components. 

    But naturally, that's kind of where I'm at the trajectory of where our founders want to take it is that you're able to take a digital photo representation of yourself into any space where you need it.

    Chase Clymer  

    Awesome. So obviously, this technology is just wild, you know, being able to see a T shirt or you know, a gene, photo realistically kind of edited on yourself. I don't know if it helps much with fit or just kind of seeing what you might look like in that garment?

    Lichota Seidewand 

    Yeah, so we're completely visual. We don't we don't kind of say or pray out there that we solve any problem. It's a lot of questions I think merchants and brands do have, we have a partner in the space bold metrics, who actually does fit. So it's kind of a nice one, two punches there. 

    Excuse me. But yeah, we're purely visual. We're really about competence and fashion.

    And I think with Forma on a website, or the ability to try clothing on, you're able to more easily scope and check out different items then you might not previously have looked at right, you can kind of privately try on items from your home, maybe test out different styles that you maybe wouldn't really look at maybe even in person to in a fitting room. 

    So yeah, we don't really sell fit, but it's a lot more of the appealing individual aspect.

    Chase Clymer  

    All right. And then so other than like, I mean, I played around with like a demo on a Shopify store. Are there any larger brands out there that are using this technology yet? Even if it's not even your technology, just similar, similar technology so people can like see it in the wild?

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah, so we are one of our bigger brands and kind of more of time right now, right is with bridal. 

    Because a lot of those have taken a hit with Coronavirus, and so on and so forth. So we have a couple big brands in there, Bertie gray, out of Los Angeles, um Sala in New York. And so I can also share with you a list if you want to share with them, your subscribers.

    Chase Clymer  

    I'll put those in the show notes. 

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah, that'd be fantastic. 

    Chase Clymer  

    Cool.

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah. So there's a bunch that do that actually, originally were mainly an iOS product app, I'm not sure if you know that as well. And so we are a social app that you download on your iPhone. 

    And basically, it's a marketplace of different clothing. It's different studios. And so that was our original product that we built. And because of our iOS product, we had brand clothing inside our app. 

    And then users in our app would shop for those clothing, leave our app and go to the e-commerce store. And now these brands are wanting more and more access to digital trends on their site. 

    And so that's kind of the natural trajectory from our app to the e commerce store. So it's kind of a different business process for us that I think here in 2020 is something we're taking a little bit more seriously.

    Chase Clymer  

    Gotcha. So there is an app in the Shopify ecosystem. It's dumb, but I'm assuming to make it work, it's a bit of a custom bag for every specific client.

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah, so the natural Shopify plugin is relatively pretty easy, right? Like any Shopify plugin probably takes five minutes or less to implement, no engineering required. The difference really is this type of the garments and skews the store has right one store could have 10,000 skews, one could have 20. 

    Um, and you can kind of think of our engine, ingesting their product images, and then about 95% of those images are ready for trial. To be trial Annabelle is what we call it right away. But then we have a post production team, a graphic team that will go in and enhance the image. 

    One thing that we really can't control on the former side is when a user submits their photo, right? So it could be poor lighting, they could be in a different awkward pose. And so the post production team is what really tries to make those images high quality. So it mitigates the risk of a poor user uploaded photo.

    Chase Clymer  

    Yeah, so that was a great addition to the question. So how do you create these? So you're, I guess you're not creating 3d models? or anything, you're using the photos that are already on the website? 

    So are you sourcing kind of just like the typical flats, like on white or using that in combination with like on figure? And I guess a follow up question would be like, what is a good amount of photos to have on a garment to like, kind of see more success in the space?

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah, so um, probably, as we both know, like shooting professional product photos is expensive hiring models is expensive. 

    But we do know that obviously, it has proven results, right. And so we're able to kind of get more out of that for our merchants and our brands. And so what happens is generally a typical pose, right, hands down by the size, standing straight on where we can kind of see the whole outfit. 

    And the way it hangs on a body is generally the best product photo that we use. And so what happens is when a user uploads that photo, you can kind of think of this rendering in a three dimensional plan, we're able to separate the clothing from that model's body and then transmit it to the user submitted photo, or like the automatic populated avatars that we have that you've seen, to fit. 

    And so there's not necessarily a perfect way to show the garment I don't think or like the look and feel. As of right now, if you were turned to the side, our engine technically has to guess the component of what is hiding behind a shadow. 

    But for a user submitted photo, generally, we recommend users to upload form fitting clothing, or t shirt and shorts, right. So you can think if a user submitted a photo wearing ski pants, and a ski jacket, we can't really properly identify where their arms are their true skin color. 

    And so our engine will have to ultimately guess at that component. So we try to mitigate that risk by user education a lot. 

    And what we find actually is that users will generally or users, excuse me, shoppers to on brands will try to upload their photo to the best of their knowledge because they obviously want the items to look good as well. 

    So yeah, it's interesting for us, we're pretty young. So I think we learn a lot from working with bigger brands, and then also with the way users interact with the experience.

    Chase Clymer  

    I got one last question for you. And it's gonna be a hard one, we got about two minutes left here is, uh, what kind of investment are people looking at to kind of implement some technology like this?

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yep. So Shopify is relatively pretty easy, right? It's a natural plug and play, it's free to install. 

    And if you don't want any type of service from us, we can relatively produce two to three items per week for you for free, we find that stores do actually want to invest in the technology and whether it is to customize their own button to fit their aesthetic on their site fit the design of their site, we're able to do that on our end. 

    Otherwise, if they have an in house agency, or they have their own developers, they can do that themselves through CSS. 

    Naturally, the biggest price point I think, is how much a brand turns over their clothing, whether it's seasonal, it's four times a year, and skew production. 

    And so relatively, it's pretty cheap and pretty scalable. Um, you can kind of use the rule of thumb, it's $10 a skew. 

    But obviously, as you go into bigger numbers, that number comes a lot down, generally a subscription package. A lot of our work is up front, right naturally getting all the skews ready. 

    And once they're deployed, really just hosting the server, it's updates, it's kind of production quality, and then working simultaneously with the brands. So it's a relatively non expensive endeavor for the type of product you're getting back out of it.

    Chase Clymer  

    Awesome and quickly. If people are curious and they want to get a hold of you and learn more, where do they go?

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah, feel free to check out our website formatech.com or shoot me an email lichota@formatech.com and I'd be happy to chat and see if there's any way we can help you either. 

    Chase Clymer  

    Awesome. Thanks for coming on. 

    Lichota Seidewand  

    Yeah, no problem. Chase, thank you so much.

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