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How is it that 78% of American consumers aged 18-44 are open to 3D scanning as a sizing solution?

Let's dig into the data.

Person holding phone looking at 3D body model, with "M" size recommendation popping out

New data from a recent NetVirta/Harris Poll reveals that 78% of American consumers aged 18-44 are likely to use smartphone 3D scanning to find the correct apparel and footwear size when shopping online. This is an astonishingly high mark considering the technology is still in its nascent, early adopter stage. It’s even more remarkable when you compare it to early consumer attitudes towards today’s mainstream technologies – car radio, smartphones, and the internet, for example, were all met with major skepticism when they were first introduced.

So how did we get here? Consumers have clearly enjoyed the convenience and endless variety that e-commerce offers, as it has exploded as a proportion of overall retail sales from 8% in 2012 to 19.1% in 2021. The Harris poll figures suggest, however, that existing sizing solutions fall short (no pun intended) of satisfying customers.

Existing Solutions Aren’t Cutting It

There are countless reasons that can explain why consumers still have trouble finding the right size when shopping online, but these might take the cake:

  1. The evolution of human body shape diversity and distribution has outpaced the evolution of product sizing standards and grading rules, which are often based on outdated population sampling data.

  2. Sizing is inconsistent across different brands and even within them.

  3. Size charts and incumbent sizing solutions require consumers to self-measure and self-report their body shape – which the average person is ill-equipped to do – and thus produce inaccurate size recommendations. In fact, results from certain solutions show that consumers tend to be overly optimistic about their body shape and size (aren’t we all?), yielding size predictions that are too small.

  4. Solutions based on body database lookups and cross-brand correlation are widely viewed in the industry as tools to boost conversion rates, but not to meaningfully reduce returns.

The existence and persistence of these problems likely explains why consumers are overwhelmingly open to a new sizing tool. The Harris poll also revealed that the desire for a more accurate sizing tool is felt among all consumer demographics, and isn’t limited to niche groups.

All Consumer Demos Want a Better Sizing Tool

According to Harris Poll data, the appetite for 3D scanning extends across all demographics. As far as age is concerned, while younger shoppers are more likely to scan themselves (a whopping 80% of shoppers aged 35-44), the report indicates that people of all ages are open to it (64% of shoppers aged 45-54). Moreover, ethnicity does not play an exclusionary factor, as the Harris Poll finds that 76% of Hispanic Americans and 66% of Black Americans would be likely to use 3D smartphone scanning. And lastly, the study found that higher household incomes correlate with a greater likelihood of scanning, but low income is not a deal breaker – 64% of individuals in households earning $50K or above are willing to scan, compared to 59% of those with a household income less than $50,000.

Despite 3D scanning being a new technology, consumers of all backgrounds are clearly receptive to the idea and open to trying it to improve their shopping experience.

Brighter Days Are Ahead When It Comes to Sizing

With people of all ages, ethnicities, and household incomes expressing their desire for a tool that truly helps them find the right size, one might ask if their wishes will ever be fulfilled. The answer is, fortunately, yes.

By way of extensive studies, proof of concepts, and product launches with brands like Victoria’s Secret, NetVirta has learned that size can only be accurately predicted by capturing a customer’s complete and unique body shape. Our Verifyt solution size recommendations are, on average, 90% accurate, and that number climbs as customer data is fed into our machine learning algorithms.

Having said that, just because a sizing solution is capable of scanning the human body, doesn’t mean it will do so effectively. Accuracy is key. As we say internally at NetVirta, “rubbish in, rubbish out.” In other words, if a customer’s 3D body scan and measurements aren’t precise, neither will the size recommendation be. In NetVirta’s case, we’ve adapted our scanning technology from the world’s only FDA-cleared smartphone-based medical scanning technology (CurveCapture, also developed by NetVirta). This background not only enables us to accurately 3D scan and predict size, but it also builds credibility amongst consumers. Savvy consumers know how to spot the real deal, and nearly 8 out of 10 Americans would choose an app based on FDA-cleared medical precision over an app without that credential, according to the Harris Poll. We’re proud to meet that prerequisite.

Doctor putting orthotic hand brace on patient

NetVirta’s mission from day 1 has been to satisfy the world’s desire for better fitting products. The sizing dilemma is yet to be solved by other tools in the market, and consumer frustration is mounting. The data speaks for itself: American shoppers are ready to embrace 3D scanning technology as a sizing solution. The path forward is clear, and brands that fail to adapt to evolving consumer needs risk falling behind. We’re proud to spearhead the proliferation of 3D scanning as a sizing solution, and we invite apparel and footwear brands around the world to join us on this ride.


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