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Virtual ‘fitting room’ gives bridal shop’s business a boost

SINGAPORE — Choosing a wedding gown can be time-consuming and exhausting not just for brides-to-be, but also for the crew doing the fittings. However, La Belle Couture Weddings has found a way to make the process faster and more efficient with a new gadget that allows its customers to “try on” gowns virtually, without the hassle of dressing and undressing.

Virtual ‘fitting room’ gives bridal shop’s business a boost

La Belle Couture used technology to up its game in the competitive marketplace. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Choosing a wedding gown can be time-consuming and exhausting not just for brides-to-be, but also for the crew doing the fittings. However, La Belle Couture Weddings has found a way to make the process faster and more efficient with a new gadget that allows its customers to “try on” gowns virtually, without the hassle of dressing and undressing. 

The bridal boutique, with its main showroom in Tanjong Pagar, stepped up its game in adopting a new technology early last year when it acquired FX Mirror, an augmented-reality device that is like a virtual fitting room. Its sensors take clients’ body measurements as they are trying on a dress and projects their image with their chosen gown onto a virtual mirror. 

With this gadget, shop assistants are able to grasp quickly what to recommend to customers based on their choices, and shoppers are able to quickly shortlist the dresses with the best size, design and colour for them. 

On Thursday (Feb 9), the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) published its report on Singapore’s longer-term economic strategies, and cited the need to help businesses build strong digital capabilities as a recommendation. 

For La Belle Couture, its owner and managing director Teo Peiru came to know about the technology around three years ago, and later approached IT and business consultancy Richmond Tech for the product.

She paid up to S$45,000 as well as yearly maintenance costs to have it in her main showroom. The project received support from enterprise agency Spring Singapore through a capability development grant. 

The boutique has enjoyed more business as well as improvements in productivity since then. Ms Teo said that the new technology helps reduce the time for every appointment with a customer. One appointment used to last four to five hours, but now it just takes about three hours. 

“We can now cut down the appointment timing by 20 per cent, (allowing) us to put in more appointments. During peak wedding season, such as at the end of the year, we can also put in 30 per cent more appointments.”

The boutique also saw a higher manpower-retention rate. Wedding gowns are heavy, weighing around 7kg to 15kg a piece. It usually takes 10 to 15 minutes to put on each piece, so customers typically get to try just about three to four dresses per hour.

Ms Teo said that some workers had left because they hurt their shoulders or back helping to fit the heavy gowns. 

“With the augmented reality (device), it takes the strain off them … (and) with the improved tech, it gives our staff members more opportunities to learn and grow.”

Apart from a website that the boutique has to showcase its products and services, the business also has an e-commerce store for shoppers to rent dresses for parties. 

It is looking to launch a software program in the next few months to let customers check and make changes to their wedding plans, and to post enquiries on the website and on a mobile app. 

It also intends to build an artificial intelligence chatbot to provide 24/7 support to customers.

Ms Teo said, “We are at the point of inflection, I think, (for the retail industry) ... whether we innovate or just stay like that ... The traditional retail (model) is in a precarious situation. Many SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) have issues implementing new technology ... but we have to find ways to ease them into accepting the benefits of what technology can do.” 

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CFE report

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