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eBay Buys PhiSix to Build Virtual Fitting Rooms

Imagine letting your customers see how your clothing items fit before they make a purchase, possibly boosting conversion rates while lowering returns due to poor fit. That’s the idea behind PhiSix, a computer graphics company just acquired by eBay.

The technology behind eBay’s latest acquisition creates 3D models of clothing from photos and “simulates the behavior of the garments.” It can be used online and offline to let shoppers to see how clothes fit, look and move in different environments. The technology is also able to recommend a size for the user’s body based on basic measurement inputs.

eBay has attempted a similar “try it on first” shopping feature using augmented reality on its eBay Fashion mobile app, and presumably PhiSix technology is more advanced.

eBay spokesperson Kari Ramirez told EcommerceBytes, “Our goal with PhiSix is to integrate it across the entire eBay Inc. portfolio.” But like many recent initiatives, this is less about eBay’s own marketplace and more about its Enterprise unit that helps service large brands and retailers. Formerly called GSI Commerce, eBay Enterprise is trying to carve out a sweet spot helping retailers succeed in an “omnichannel” world spanning brick-and-mortar, online and mobile. For example, eBay rolled out “digital storefronts” at a California shopping mall over the holidays where shoppers could interact with a touchscreen to shop over 100 products from Sony, TOMS and Rebecca Minkoff. Hardly the kind of technology needed by most eBay sellers.

eBay said the PhiSix technology could be integrated across the entire eBay Inc. portfolio “to enable a more immersive and compelling user experience so consumers can make informed choices whether at home or in a store” – and it called the in-store experience “equally compelling.”

These 3D models allow shoppers to use a virtual fitting room to view the clothes in various scenarios – such as walking down the street or hitting a golf club, rather than using a dressing room. “eBay Inc. believes it can integrate the PhiSix technology to power various online and physical store shopping experiences.”

The scientist behind PhiSix and his three colleagues will join eBay Inc.’s Innovation and New Ventures team as part of the acquisition. The head of eBay’s new ventures team Steve Yankovich said, “Consumers can experience the merchandise in a more efficient and impactful way, which we believe will drive sales for retailers and create a delightful experience for shoppers.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.