Virtual Model Tracks Users' Fashion Tastes

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My Virtual Model Inc.'s technology, which gives visitors to clothing e-tail sites an idea of how garments will look on them, now comes with software that learns their fashion tastes.

MVM, Montreal, added QuickDog Inc.'s Personal Shopper system to the modeling technology this week. The firms' applications also are sold separately.

Personal Shopper tracks viewers' preferences, such as favorite colors and styles. The collected data enable marketers to target MVM users with upsells. A shopper who views a sweater, for example, might receive an offer for pants in a similar fabric or color.

Lands' End, Dodgeville, WI, completed development of Personal Shopper last fall and sold the rights to the system to QuickDog, San Francisco. Lands' End was the first company to use the modeling technology and Personal Shopper together.

A Lands' End spokeswoman would not comment on how the applications have affected online sales.

"We think of it more as a customer service tool than a marketing tool," said the spokeswoman, Andrea Stephenson.

Stephenson said 1.5 million users have created virtual models at since it started using the technology in 1998.

Visitors creating a virtual model must fill out an online survey that collects body measurements, face shape, skin tone, hair color and hairstyle.

Merchants can work with MVM to tailor the options and survey questions. The registration process to create a model at the Lands' End site, for example, calls for end-users' e-mail addresses. The participants are offered the chance to sign up for weekly, biweekly or monthly newsletters personalized to include only selected areas of interest.

Survey information can be presented as a link to a separate page or in a pop-up window. Additionally, the system is designed to make upsell offers only when the appropriate product is in stock, said Deborah Naftali, communications manager at MVM.

Naftali said the company negotiates performance-based deals with prospective clients. She added that Personal Shopper has not raised the rates on the model technology package.

MVM currently offers adult male and female models within its application and plans to add a children's version this spring.

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