"Feel" it

21 Nov 2004 - 12:26am
9 years ago
20 replies
745 reads
Listera
2004

The first significant custom application I ever designed/developed was for
an outfit in the New York Fashion District. The owner kept telling me if
somebody could one day create an electronic way to sell clothes, he'd be
very rich (obviously this was years before the web; TV and kiosks were what
he had in mind then).

It turns out, however, that today returns of clothes bought online reaches
40%, mostly due to dissatisfaction with the fabrics (cf. ~3% for book or CD
returns).

So it was inevitable that someone would create a web app that allows users
to "touch and feel" the fabric:

Info:
<http://www.click2touch.com/>

Demo:
<http://www.click2touch.com/Demo1/>

Does this work for you?

----
Ziya

A sufficiently well-prepared demo is indistinguishable from magic.

Comments

21 Nov 2004 - 12:45am
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 12:26 AM 11/21/2004, Listera wrote:
>It turns out, however, that today returns of clothes bought online reaches
>40%, mostly due to dissatisfaction with the fabrics (cf. ~3% for book or CD
>returns).

This is a nice myth.

Having spent a lot of time in the last few years working with the major
apparel retailers, I can tell you that the returns from online apparel are
no more substantial than the returns from the bricks & mortar and catalog
channels. The odds that an item will be returned are about the same,
regardless of channel. At least among our customers (which account for most
of the brands you've heard about).

Jared

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal
User Interface Engineering
4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d
Middleton, MA 01949
978 777-9123
jspool at uie.com
http://www.uie.com

21 Nov 2004 - 1:00am
Listera
2004

Jared M. Spool:

> This is a nice myth.

I'm citing from the BBC News story:

<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3644008.stm>

Where exactly she gets the figures I have no idea.

Are you saying that providing a way to simulate "touch & feel" on fabrics
would have no significant effect on clothes merchandising online?

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

22 Nov 2004 - 12:36am
Lyle_Kantrovich...
2004

This sure wouldn't help me much, if at all, when buying clothing online.
It's just more photos of the fabric and garment strung together with
some bad interaction design.

Of course if I were a clothing retailer I'd also have a hard time buying
a product designed to help people "interact" with clothing online when
the company's site is done mostly in Flash with a horribly crippled
scroll bar. (Note you have to continuously click to keep
scrolling...ugh!) Reminds me of research that showed site design impacts
credibility...

Lyle

----

Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
architecture and design.
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
- Leonardo da Vinci

-----Original Message-----
From: listera at rcn.com [mailto:listera at rcn.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 20, 2004 11:27 PM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] "Feel" it

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

The first significant custom application I ever designed/developed was
for
an outfit in the New York Fashion District. The owner kept telling me if
somebody could one day create an electronic way to sell clothes, he'd be
very rich (obviously this was years before the web; TV and kiosks were
what
he had in mind then).

It turns out, however, that today returns of clothes bought online
reaches
40%, mostly due to dissatisfaction with the fabrics (cf. ~3% for book or
CD
returns).

So it was inevitable that someone would create a web app that allows
users
to "touch and feel" the fabric:

Info:
<http://www.click2touch.com/>

Demo:
<http://www.click2touch.com/Demo1/>

Does this work for you?

----
Ziya

A sufficiently well-prepared demo is indistinguishable from magic.

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22 Nov 2004 - 1:27am
Manu Sharma
2003

Ziya:
It turns out, however, that today returns of clothes bought online
reaches 40%, mostly due to dissatisfaction with the fabrics [...] So it
was inevitable that someone would create a web app that allows users to
"touch and feel" the fabric: <http://www.click2touch.com/Demo1/>

Jared:
This is a nice myth. [...] I can tell you that the returns from online
apparel are no more substantial than the returns from the bricks &
mortar and catalog channels.

Ziya:
I'm citing from the BBC News story:
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3644008.stm>. Where exactly she
gets the figures I have no idea. Are you saying that providing a way to
simulate "touch & feel" on fabrics would have no significant effect on
clothes merchandising online?

I can imagine the return rate of catalogue and online retail to be
similar but the assertion that they compare with brick and mortar
return rates does not make sense. For this to be true, it would mean
that the inability to ascertain the correct fit, quality and color of
online clothing with confidence does not matter to consumers at all. Or
that this problem has been completely solved.

We all know this to be untrue. I even remember Jared's presentation
from the last IA summit where he recounted observing a woman trying to
buy a set of pajamas she was interested in but eventually deciding
against it - she couldn't ascertain the quality of stitching like she
does in a store. So clearly it's an important problem to consumers and
it exists. If it's preventing users from buying, one can safely assume
that it would also be contributing to some percentage of returns.

The figure quoted in the BBC story is another case of bad statistics -
of media either distorting a piece of statistic to suit their need
and/or misconstruing it. This piece succeeds to do both.

It says, "the development [of click2touch] comes as figures show almost
40% of products bought online are returned by dissatisfied customers."
Further down it quotes the designer of the program as saying, "almost
half of all garments bought online are returned, but less than 3% of
items such as CDs, DVDs and books are sent back." In the next sentence,
the article adds that "she said potential customers were deterred by
the inability to feel garments."

There are two grave errors in this representation.

1] It implies that all returns or even a high percentage of them
attribute to touch and feel without even hinting that there are other
possible explanations.

Touch and feel is only one of the number of reasons why people return
their clothing purchases. And it isn't the most important one either.
According to a source, an incorrect fit/ size is more likely to cause a
return. Other possible explanations include: incorrect color, damaged
product, delayed shipment, impulsive purchase / change of mind and an
exchange counted as return.

2] According to sources, casual clothing items that comprise of a huge
chunk of all clothing sold off the internet, have return rates of no
more than10-20%. It's only in the case of high fashion fitted dresses -
which sell in very small quantities online - that returns peak to
around 40%. Sweaters and blouses also have high return rates.
Undergarments have the lowest return rate at around 2%.

If it were true that "almost half of all garments bought online are
returned," the online apparel retail industry would have disappeared
long ago. The fact is, it remains one of the key drivers of online
retail.

[ Incidentally, the same argument [of high return rate in online
apparel purchases] was used a few years ago to sell another technology
solution: http://www.yourfit.com/ ]

I've always believed that shopping sites do a pretty lousy job of
setting expectations while showcasing their products. But do we need a
technology that employs virtual reality animation to achieve something
that can be as easily done using extensive close up pictures? What
cannot be achieved by pictures, in case the product is too "touchy
feely" [to distort a phrase] can be simply demonstrated in a video clip
that shows a person highlighting the various attributes of the product.

I doubt that the sense of interaction gained through such a
demonstration would be actually worth the long download wait provided
we assume [the unlikely prospect] that retailers will actually invest
into such a technology... creating VR animations of each of their
clothing product and that click2touch will be actually usable in its
later versions.

Why eliminate a human in favour of cutting edge technology where the
former can be more efficient?

Manu.

On return rates:
http://catalogagemag.com/mag/marketing_happy_returns_2/
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3816/is_4_17/ai_60377441
http://catalogagemag.com/mag/marketing_not_returns_2/
http://www.internetretailer.com/article.asp?id=13028
http://www.techexchange.com/thelibrary/online_fit.html

22 Nov 2004 - 3:24am
Peter Boersma
2003

Ziya wrote:

> Demo:
> <http://www.click2touch.com/Demo1/>
>
> Does this work for you?

I see closeups and an animation and lots of buttons that don't seem to
promise what they say ("compare", "elasticity", "thickness").

I don't feel a thing.

Peter
--
Peter Boersma - Senior Information Architect - EzGov
Rijnsburgstraat 11 - 1059AT Amsterdam - The Netherlands
t: +31(0)20 7133881 - f: +31(0)20 7133799 - m: +31(0)6 15072747
mailto:peter.boersma at ezgov.com - http://www.ezgov.com

22 Nov 2004 - 4:10am
Abhishek Thakkar
2004

On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 09:24:58 +0100, Peter Boersma
> I see closeups and an animation and lots of buttons that don't seem to
> promise what they say ("compare", "elasticity", "thickness").
>
> I don't feel a thing.
>
> Peter

I didnt get to "click", everything was happening on mouseover only in IE.
And yes .. nothing was "felt"
--
Abhishek Thakkar
The Last of the Giants

22 Nov 2004 - 10:51am
Pradyot Rai
2004

Peter Boersma <peter.boersma at ezgov.com> wrote:
> I see closeups and an animation and lots of buttons that don't seem to
> promise what they say ("compare", "elasticity", "thickness").
>
> I don't feel a thing.

That brings us to realize that every medium has it's limitations. When
it comes to sell Books, Movies, Music, Internet is fine, because the
"feel" factor is "see" or "listen". For the elements where "feel" is
"touch" or "smell", printed calalogs are far superior carrier than
internet.

Prady

22 Nov 2004 - 12:18pm
ldebett
2004

But nothing beats the real deal.

While fabric swatches or cologne inserts can be added to catalogs to engage
the other senses, I don't see how printed pieces can do a thing for "touch"
or "smell" (never mind fit!). Isn't that why they pay Kate Moss millions to
sell perfume? To engage "other" parts of the brain and get you to buy?

It seems to me the Internet isn't quite "fine" for Books, Movies or Music
either - otherwise, I'd actually be able to get a parking spot at my local
Barnes & Noble Bookstore!! ;-)

~Lisa

> For the elements where "feel" is "touch" or "smell", printed calalogs are
far
> superior carrier than internet.
> Prady

22 Nov 2004 - 1:19pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Manu Sharma <manu at orangehues.com> writes:

>I can imagine the return rate of catalogue and online retail to be
>similar but the assertion that they compare with brick and mortar
>return rates does not make sense. For this to be true, it would mean
>that the inability to ascertain the correct fit, quality and color of
>online clothing with confidence does not matter to consumers at all. Or
>that this problem has been completely solved.

That assumes that the barriers to return are the same in all three
cases. I don't believe that to be true. Having to rebox and ship --
at the customer's expense, sometimes -- can be a high barrier; the
customer has to decide if it's "worth it" to do so, or if they'll
just accept the product that wasn't quite what they expected but
which may be "good enough". In contrast, for B&M outlets, if the
store is local, then the barrier to return is just another trip (and
at which point, the customer gets to reselect for an item that s/he
does want).
--

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Jim Drew Seattle, WA jdrew at adobe.com
http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 11/19)

22 Nov 2004 - 3:28pm
Manu Sharma
2003

I wrote:
> >I can imagine the return rate of catalogue and online retail to be
> >similar but the assertion that they compare with brick and mortar
> >return rates does not make sense. For this to be true, it would mean
> >that the inability to ascertain the correct fit, quality and color
of
> >online clothing with confidence does not matter to consumers at all.
Or
> >that this problem has been completely solved.

to which Jim Drew replied:
That assumes that the barriers to return are the same in all three
cases. [...] Having to rebox and ship -- at the customer's expense,
sometimes -- can be a high barrier.

This is a very good observation. I did not consider this. However, this
argument loses some ground when you consider:

a] some online retailers do accept returns in their physical stores
therefore somewhat lowering the return barrier in case of online
purchases

b] not all b&m stores where you make a purchase are local... returning
an order become a hassle if the store isn't on your way to work
therefore somewhat raising the barrier in case of b&m purchases.

I do realise that b] applies for a] as well. So this is overall an
interesting and complex scenario. With so many variables it will be
speculation to state which matters more than others. I suppose only
statistics culled from a number of retailers that have presence in both
the channels can provide a clear picture [or we could go with Jared's
word on it based on his experience with his customers who account for
most of the brands we've heard about].

I haven't found such comparative figures. There are some stats on
shop.org regarding return rates but none seem to be relevant here.
http://www.shop.org/learn/stats_hol2000_rates.asp. Another source
quotes a Yankee group report that says,

"consumers who purchase women's clothing on the Web return almost 40
percent of the merchandise because color, fit and quality expectations
are not met - more than double the return rate at brick-and-mortar
stores."
http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/news/news/article.php/1430021

But this is only for one small category, it's unclear if it's
representative of all clothing purchases online. I'm also unsure
whether the return rate quoted for b&m stores is from the same category
or stands for all clothing purchases.

Manu.

PS: Interesting story on how research in catalogue returns is helping
teachers teach math.

"High-School Teachers Benefit Through Mail-Order Clothing Distribution"
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/508053/

22 Nov 2004 - 11:04pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

"deBettencourt, Lisa" <lisa_debettencourt at bose.com> wrote:
> It seems to me the Internet isn't quite "fine" for Books, Movies or Music
> either - otherwise, I'd actually be able to get a parking spot at my local
> Barnes & Noble Bookstore!! ;-)

Ok, Fine!... only since you are insisting!

Let's change the subject slightly from the mandane issues of design to
books/music/movies/cofee and Barnes and Noodles, 'cos you want to talk
about it ;-)

The fact that you (or me) can't park at B&N doesn't reflect the subtle
change internet is making at B&N's business, and on Humanoids, in
general. Most of the B&N that I know (surely the one in front of my
house) gives free wireless internet. I think, parking lots of B&N will
remain occupied, because you will go there for coffee, watch new book,
magazine covers, or movie releases. B&N sells "expereince" and
probably you and me will convince them to charge for it, directly or
indirectly. Amazon will keep doing great at the other end and share
it's market with B&N. This is perfect market for oligopoly, and both
will keep complementing each other.

Books will soon turn into "more" digital. People will demand "Books on
Demand", via XM radio/internet/cellphones/PDAs. There is already a
population, I know personally, who needs all text books to be
converted into audio transcripts. The concept of eBook will comeback
with friendlier face. It has taken 500 years for print technology to
arive where it is, atleast give internet another 5 years.

As far as Music & Movies goes, people love piracy and hacking - that's
some form of entertainment too. Napster kind of innovation will keep
bouncing back. Especially, Music industry will keep changing hands,
just like the airline industry has done in last 80-90 years! But you
will surely see internet becoming part of life.

Ok, let me pick up "hitckhikers guide..." back where I left it :-)

:p

23 Nov 2004 - 8:47am
ldebett
2004

Hmmm... To play both sides of the fence for a bit...

> Amazon will keep doing great at the other end and share
> it's market with B&N. This is perfect market for oligopoly, and both
> will keep complementing each other.

Isn't the Internet presence of B&N actually Amazon? I think I remember
reading that somewhere...

> There is already a population, I know personally, who needs all text books
to
> be converted into audio transcripts.

Yeah me too. In Boston, we're called Commuters. ;-)

Now, please excuse me while I click back over to the Apple Music Store...

~L

23 Nov 2004 - 9:12am
ErikaOrrick
1969

Amazon formed a partnership with Borders.
B&N has its own online presence at bn.com

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of deBettencourt, Lisa
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 8:01 AM
To: Pradyot Rai;
discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] "Feel" it

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Hmmm... To play both sides of the fence for a bit...

> Amazon will keep doing great at the other end and share it's market
> with B&N. This is perfect market for oligopoly, and both will keep
> complementing each other.

Isn't the Internet presence of B&N actually Amazon? I think I remember
reading that somewhere...

> There is already a population, I know personally, who needs all text
> books
to
> be converted into audio transcripts.

Yeah me too. In Boston, we're called Commuters. ;-)

Now, please excuse me while I click back over to the Apple Music
Store...

~L

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23 Nov 2004 - 9:37am
ldebett
2004

AHA. That's it. Thanks, Erika!

> Amazon formed a partnership with Borders.
> B&N has its own online presence at bn.com
>

23 Nov 2004 - 6:42pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Manu Sharma <manu at orangehues.com> writes:

> > >I can imagine the return rate of catalogue and online retail to be
>> >similar but the assertion that they compare with brick and mortar
>> >return rates does not make sense. For this to be true, it would mean
>> >that the inability to ascertain the correct fit, quality and color of
>> >online clothing with confidence does not matter to consumers at all. Or
>> >that this problem has been completely solved.
>
>to which Jim Drew replied:
>>That assumes that the barriers to return are the same in all three
>>cases. [...] Having to rebox and ship -- at the customer's expense,
>>sometimes -- can be a high barrier.
>
>This is a very good observation. I did not consider this. However, this
>argument loses some ground when you consider:
>
>a] some online retailers do accept returns in their physical stores
>therefore somewhat lowering the return barrier in case of online
>purchases
>
>b] not all b&m stores where you make a purchase are local... returning
>an order become a hassle if the store isn't on your way to work
>therefore somewhat raising the barrier in case of b&m purchases.

I would expect to find a continuum here.

* For stores easily accessible and often visited -- big box
department stores -- returns are "easy" and are apt to be done.

* For stores hard to access -- non-local, not visited frequently, or
online [requiring shipping] -- returns are "difficult" and may be
less apt to be done.

* Price will also have an effect: for a $15 t-shirt, returns are
probably less likely than for a $400 cocktail dress.

* Familiarity also plays a role. We all know what a pink cotton
t-shirt should be, and it's *just* a pink cotton t-shirt, so small
variations in color and fit may not be important. But an antique
aubergine hand-milled silk kimono with metallic chartreuse
embroidery? Odds are you are buying something very specific there.

Myself, other than familiar and fairly low price items, I haven't
bought much over the Internet, for many of the reasons above. One
custom-made garment from France, but that's about it. A used car
would be a total no-go.
--

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Jim Drew Seattle, WA jdrew at adobe.com
http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 11/19)

24 Nov 2004 - 5:33am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

L> Demo:
L> <http://www.click2touch.com/Demo1/>

L> Does this work for you?

No. No touch involved. And I can disappoint the readers: you cannot
have a close-to-natural feel of fine textures at the moment, the
science is not there - yet (my qualified opinion is based on nearly two
years I spent in research and development of haptic (the official name
for virtual touch) interfaces).

For state of the art in haptic hardware, see
http://www.sensable.com/products/phantom_ghost/phantom.asp; this is
what most haptic researchers use. If you ever get a chance to play
with Phantom, do it. It's a very mind-boggling and eye-opening
experience for an IxD.

For ideas of topics and recent work in haptic interfaces, see, for
example, http://www.lsr.ei.tum.de/eurohaptics2004/programme.shtml

The touch will be there, virtual reality will be there, and this is
where the real interaction design will begin.

Lada

25 Nov 2004 - 3:26am
guillaume.chill...
2004

Don't know if this has been posted before but, concerning feeling images,
here's a link to the IRISA lab of INRIA where Anatole Lécuyer, Laurent
Etienne, Bruno Arnaldi, and Jean-Marie Burkhardt are developping a way to
feel the relief of images.

" The idea is to give the illusion of perceiving the relief of an image when
the user moves the mouse cursor over the image.The speed and movement of the
cursor are artificially modified. If the cursor "goes uphill", it gets slowed
down. Conversely, when the cursor goes down a slope, it is accelerated. If
the cursor hits a "wall", its movement is stopped.

The algorithm developed uses the "grayscale levels" of the displayed image.
In short, if the cursor moves from a dark point (or pixel) to a clear point
(or pixel), it gets slowed down."

Try it at :

English : http://www.irisa.fr/tactiles/index-eng.html

French : http://www.irisa.fr/tactiles/index.html

---------

Guillaume

26 Nov 2004 - 12:15pm
Stewart Dean
2004

>From: Pradyot Rai <pradyotrai at gmail.com>
>Reply-To: Pradyot Rai <pradyotrai at gmail.com>

>That brings us to realize that every medium has it's limitations. When
>it comes to sell Books, Movies, Music, Internet is fine, because the
>"feel" factor is "see" or "listen". For the elements where "feel" is
>"touch" or "smell", printed calalogs are far superior carrier than
>internet.
>
>Prady

I find this statement interesting. I know a lot of web based sites don't
quite have the quality feel of well published catalogues. We can change the
paper weight or finish of the users screens I admit but aside from these
what is stopping us get across touch and feel compared to a paper catalogue,
assuming actual samples of the material are not included?

I think it's generaly agreed the touch web site fails to convey much and
that there exists a problem with clothing sites due to it's inherent
inability to reproduce the most important aspect of the offline experience -
trying on the product.

My view is somethings are not possible to get around - and the more clever
you try to be the more you may be missing the point. It may be easier to
look at off line solutions and make the best of the online experience.

>From my view isnt this about browsing online and making trying off line
easier?

Stewart Dean

26 Nov 2004 - 2:22pm
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

I can't be the only one on the list who has a bunch of catalogues
stored beside the toilet. Even if that isn't the case, catalogue
shopping, especially browsing, often gets done during "down time" -
when we don't have some other pressing task at hand. While I could
browse catalogues in front of my computer, I rarely do. I've got too
much other *work* to do while at my computer. I might buy online, but
I prefer browsing and deciding what to buy offline.

This suggests that "quality of feel" is only part of the issue. The
portability and flexibility of paper-based catalogues are also
important. Paper-based catalogues do a good job of addressing the
times when I have time to browse. Computers don't.

For a fascinating perspective on some of these issues, I highly
recommend reading a book called "The Myth of the Paperless Office" by
Abigail Harper and Richard Sellen. They don't talk about catalogue
shopping, but they do discuss the nature (and benefits) of paper
in-depth. In my opinion, this book is very relevant to IxD because it
helps us understand how people interact with paper at a much deeper
level; it's easy to translate this stuff into design guidance:

http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?sid=3AECD285-354F-41A5-850C-89B52AEE29B4&ttype=2&tid=8501

Subscribers to the ACM digital library can read a review I wrote of
this book here:

http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=986272&coll=ACM&dl=ACM&CFID=32528455&CFTOKEN=69010715

Regards,
-Gerard

--
Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

26 Nov 2004 - 7:04pm
Listera
2004

Gerard Torenvliet:

> I can't be the only one on the list who has a bunch of catalogues
> stored beside the toilet.

Yes, you are.:-)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

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