With so many well-funded eCommerce lingerie companies popping up in the last couple of years, it seems like the traditional brick and mortar commerce brands might have serious competition very soon. According to the Global Online Lingerie Market report published in June published by TechNavio, the industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17% in the next four years.  The report revealed that many successful companies like Calvin Klein Victoria’s Secret have marked their presence online. This availability is seemingly more appealing to the customers, because it provides the consumers the opportunity to shop comfortably and privately from their homes.

And while the industry has undoubtedly grown and evolved, and the complete eCommerce industry has benefited significantly from this development, there are some roadblocks ahead. For starters, despite the availability of numerous online services and smartphone apps, selecting a product with the correct measurements has been a constant cause of concern for a lot of shoppers. For instance, purchasing a bra online can be difficult as female consumers cannot try them on before the purchase.

The Problems with Traditional Fitting

The thing is, bra shopping isn’t perfect offline either and many women have trouble finding a bra that matches their exact measurements. In some cases, even the measuring tape doesn’t help – a recent Portsmouth University study revealed that 70% of measuring tape fittings don’t get it right. In fact, most underestimate the back size and overestimate the cup size. Picking the right size is even further complicated by inconsistencies across manufacturers. That’s why a startup called True & Co. has been perfecting the online bra purchasing experience using data and algorithms

Using Data to Find the Right Size

True & Co.’s co-founder Michelle Lam wanted to eliminate the trial-and error process and reinvent the whole purchasing process by gathering information from women on the pros and cons of their current bras. To date, Lam identified more than 6,000 different body types, which helped her build an online survey with questions like: What is your dress size? Do your straps dig in? How old is your bra? The company launched a website with the questionnaire in 2012, and in the first year alone, the questionnaire was filled by around a million women, the company shipped half-a-million of bras and hit $5.6 million in revenue, according to CNBC.

Selfies for Better-Fitting Bras?

San Francisco-based company ThirdLove also aims to help women find the perfect-bra, but their method is a little bit different. Through an app, women can use their phones to take a picture of themselves (in a tank top or an old bra) in front of a mirror. The app takes two photos and extracts 3D data to generate a bra size. The company’s co-founder, Heidi Zak claims that this technology is more accurate than a person sizing at a store by a half inch. All of these startups may have the technology on their size but conventional companies aren’t trailing far behind. Well-established lingerie businesses like Leonisa that recently celebrate its 60th anniversary, have modern websites, apps and a huge selection of different bras, panties and shapewear.


Despite the recent rise, lingerie eCommerce business still has a lot more to go, because they are still competing with old-school lingerie brands, and Victoria’s Secret is still dominating the market. Recently, a Yotpo study, which examined over 1.3 million customer reviews discovered that words consumers most commonly use have to do with size, fit and comfort. In the lingerie industry, size is rather personal and varies from shopper to shopper and store to store, which is both a curse and blessing to lingerie brands.

Author's Bio: 

James D. Burbank has worked for years in traditional as well as online marketing. He has worked in Central Asia, Europe and Australasia in recent years.