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Can new technology finally solve the dilemma of buying clothes online?

(Yahoo Finance Canada)
(Yahoo Finance Canada)

The death of the retail industry may have been greatly exaggerated – but that doesn't mean the industry isn't currently going through major disruptive and fundamental changes. For this special series, Yahoo Finance Canada will look at how the retail scene is developing, what companies are doing to adapt, and what could come next. Click the image above to see our full coverage of what the future holds for the Canadian and global retail scene.

We do a lot of our shopping through screens these days. They may be considered public enemy number one in the eyes of most brick and mortar retailers, but screen time can actually enhance the retail experience.

Passen is a Toronto-based company that is working with retailers and malls to make sure you get the perfect fit. A high-tech booth equipped with a series of cameras creates a scan of your body after you enter your information through a touch screen. The measurements are then sent to your smartphone.

What you do next is up to you. You can take them to a store and find a match yourself. You can also let Passen pick out clothes for you and order online or pick them up in store.

Stuart Campbell, founder and CEO, says Passen is converging brick and mortar with e-commerce by helping retailers do a better job at selling in person and online.

“The biggest thing, the emergence of this business, the reason that we started was that there was a 30 per cent online return rate for clothing,” Stuart told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“So $30 billion worth of apparel product is purchased online, and sent back.”

Campbell says being a millennial shopper with little time to hit the mall helped give him the idea to launch Passen.

“I love the convenience of Amazon, love the fact that I can order things to my door but nobody trusts buying clothes online, or a minority of people trust buying clothes online,” said Stewart.

“For those that do, they buy six items and return five and that's kind of the whole challenge that's leading to all this waste.”

Passen is fully integrated with merchandise at Buckson Slacks, while working on a number of deals with major stores and mall locations.

Making change rooms ‘smarter’

Nobal Technology’s iMirror is already in a number of big-name retailers including Tommy Hilfiger locations in London and Zurich, as well as Lovepop in New York. It aims to bring online commerce into the physical store.

Customers can take clothes into a touch-screen equipped change room, where they can request different colours and sizes on the spot. If it’s not available in store, you can have it shipped to your home.

“We bring the best parts of e-commerce and online shopping into a brick and mortar setting in a fitting room environment,” Pieter Boekhoff, CEO of Nobal Technology told Yahoo Finance Canada.

If you’re in a rush, the order can be sent to your phone to finish off later.

Boekhoff says moving to a small town at a younger age with his family, who opened a small retail store, helped steer him into retail.

“Basically, the entire world is consumers and retailers, so it’s fascinating,” said Boekhoff.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains

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