As retail continues its shift from physical to virtual stores, the time has come to reinvent the fitting room.

Customers making their way to online apparel retailers have more than a few demands and expectations, and one of them is the ability to return ill-fitting garments in a fee- and hassle-free way. This can be a real drawback for the sellers, who face the dilemma of either getting on board and eating the cost or hemorrhaging miffed consumers.

At some online stores, like ASOS, shoppers can enter personal measurements to get a better size, but several startups are betting that a virtual fitting room can help fashion retailers to cut their losses.

Since 2008, U.K. startup Metail has been fine-tuning its “memodel” experience, which involves the creation of a personal avatar and the photographing of clothes in a way that accommodates all the different models. offers a similar customer experience. The avatar is built using height, weight, bust and body shape, but this version can switch to different poses and settings, including the tension view that shows where the fit is too snug.

Fitle, a mobile app, transforms the user’s smartphone into a 3D body scanner and builds an avatar that then guides the customer through the online shopping experience. With a little forethought – like wearing tight clothes and having the right setup – the process takes 30 seconds, according to the app.

Photo courtesy Fitle