Amazon's Challenge: Selling Clothes That Actually Fit

By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff

Amazon ( AMZN) is looking to become a force in the apparel industry, but there's one rather big problem, as Farhad Manjoo discovered: Despite the site's vast selection, it's still difficult to find pants that actually fit.

This is a big problem with online retailers in general, which could be why online clothing sales haven't taken off: A huge percentage of customers end up returning clothes, because ordering them often amounts to a guessing game.

Even if you think you know your size, not all clothes are "true to size" -- meaning there's no guarantee you'll actually be able to zip the pants you order. If Amazon truly wants to dominate the game, Manjoo offers some suggestions on Slate:

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  • Me-Ality has set up booths across the nation where customers can get body-scanned to learn their exact dimensions. Sure, it's kind of a "wacky" idea, but if Amazon listed clothes by scanned size, you could be pretty sure they'd fit.
  • True Fit uses information about your body type, the sizes in particular brands that usually fit you, and the clothes you already wear to predict what other clothes might fit you.

If both of those sound too high-tech, Amazon could always offer predictions for clothes that will fit based on measurements taken yourself, with a good old-fashioned measuring tape. And it will pay off, Manjoo predicts: "Getting clothes that fit perfectly is surprisingly thrilling; it makes you feel so good that you can't stop yourself from buying more."

--Written by Evann Gastaldo of Newser