Canadian Startup Launches Digital Measurement Technology to Revolutionize Retail Industry

PHOTO: PASSEN

PHOTO: PASSEN

By Mario Toneguzzi

Passen is a technology that could revolutionize body measurements and the retail industry as we know it today.

Passen is a digital measurement technology that the company says will bridge the gap between physical and online retail, and it is currently in negotiations with some of Canada’s biggest shopping centre landlords. The company captures and uses data to deliver an accurate fit for consumers when buying clothes online or in stores. This data is also used to reduce retail returns while enhancing upstream processes for the textile industry including production efficiencies and environmental sustainability, said Stuart Campbell, founder of the Toronto-based company.

“Reports suggest that in 2018 alone, over $30 billion in on-line apparel sales were returned to retailers" says Campbell. That is a lot of waste"

photo: passen via facebook

photo: passen via facebook

photo: passen via facebook

photo: passen via facebook

“It’s a zero risk proposition for the consumer. Free shipping and free returns. Of course, I’m going to buy five things, try all of them on, and send four of them back. Why wouldn’t I? That’s the default. The consumer will engage in a digital measurement experience from which they can then use their data almost like a passport on any retailer’s web site or brick and mortar location to purchase clothing while streamlining the process. Retailers and consumers alike enjoy a more efficient experience.  And then you get to use this kind of like passport on any retailer’s website or in their store to get this new service which is products that fit your body in a super streamlined way. Our value proposition is to increase online sales for clothing retailers and decrease online returns.”

The company began in March 2017.

“I’m a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business (University of Western Ontario) and I enjoyed working within the digital product development landscape before starting Passen in 2017.

“E-commerce is taking off and with the likes of Amazon and Shopify, it's only going to grow. We identified the opportunity to solve the significant problem with "fit" as it related to consumer returns while a the same time bridging the growing gap between on-line and brick and mortar. In a sense technology created the (on-line) problem for traditional retailing and it can also fix it with out technology. It's all about the consumer experience.” 

“The apparel industry hasn't had the tools to necessarily respond to the speed in which technology is changing consumer behaviour. The Amazons of the world have set a precedent for return policies that aren't necessarily fair for the apparel industry and yet, they've been adopted at great cost. Our technology intends to flatten the playing field and bring all vested parties together that include consumers, retailers, brands, and the malls that have done so much to host this industry over the years.”

Passen is a digital measurement platform that provides fit recommendations for clothing shoppers. Individuals receive their own profile. Clothing is measured as well and put into the company’s database. A fit algorithm will match the person’s body with clothing products that fit the person. That can happen through a click of a button on an e-commerce website or in a store or shopping centre. The technology will be on display for the first time at Retail Council of Canada’s STORE Conference, being held in Toronto on May 28-29.

“What we’re able to do with the click of a button is find and serve to you only the things that are relevant for you for your body. It’s an apparel fit technology and it embeds onto retailer’s websites and it’s a physical measuring experience and our go-to-market strategy is to put these measuring experiences, these destination experiences, in all the major malls across the world,” said Campbell. The concept aims to bridge the gap between physical and online retail with consumers being able to utilize Passen technology across both channels.

photo: passen via facebook

photo: passen via facebook

Recently, the Passen Lounge was launched -  a product showcase where it renovated an historic building on the Ryerson University campus and for three days it toured Canada’s most significant retail executive teams through showing them this new, re-imagined consumer experience.

“That was a three-day pop-up, if you will, to demonstrate a very specific consumer experience and to demonstrate our technology,” said Campbell. “You go, you get measured, you leave this measuring booth and with the click of a button we can find you an outfit from thousands of clothing items and pull it off a rack. What would have taken as an in-store experience of you going up and down aisles and taking four different sizes of something into a change room, we’ve streamlined the in-store experience and then as well these consumers can now shop online.”

Campbell said Passen is in conversations with all the major malls about deploying these lounges in their malls. The idea is that Passen will help drive traffic back to malls to provide consumers with an enhanced digital body measuring experience where customers have the option to shop and reserve in-store for pickup — or consumers can shop from the convenience of their own homes to have it delivered, guaranteeing fit. Future Passen lounges will also have the option of providing professional styling services, further enhancing the overall physical experience.

“The idea of this showcase was come and see the future and now let’s deploy these together and actually create a live consumer experience where someone can go buy real product and get their own digital profile and kick start this new shopping experience,” he said.

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Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com

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