Microsoft Partner
Microsoft Partner

Making the online shopping experience more like real life


As people live ever more online, how can you virtualise the best real-life experiences to improve UX and conversions – and even engage those who have been reluctant to go digital? It’s a challenge facing many businesses, and it’s one Dootrix has been helping be Retail Social solve for online clothes retailers.


Retail technology company be Retail Social is aiming to create a more natural experience for shoppers buying their clothes online. It allows customers to create an animated, dynamic, virtual 3D model that reflects their height, build, hair, skin tone, age, and even their own face, to present clothing in an intuitive, engaging and relatable way.


The app, for desktop and phone, offers a personal, shareable changing room to deliver more of the in-store, social experience online. Retailers licence the tech as a plug-in and be Retail Social gathers the data.


The idea for be Retail Social was conceived in 2018, with the founder and CEO, Simon Iddon, bringing his experience working with international fashion and sportswear retailers to bear when developing the full concept and extensive roadmap during the pandemic.

Iddon needed a technical partner that could both reach a deep understanding of be Retail Social’s business vision and deliver the technology to make it a reality for retailers and consumers. He chose Dootrix.

“We ran a tender with a number of onshore and offshore agencies and were impressed with how Dootrix demonstrated their understanding of our plan and needs,” says Iddon. “Their structured yet flexible approach and breadth of team experience certainly helped as we have several innovative areas and needed their lateral thinking.”



Dootrix began the project with a formal discovery process. Its team of designers, developers, testers and delivery managers, worked closely with be Retail Social to understand the company’s vision, reviewing the static Proof of Concept (PoC) and design ideas. The subsequent technical discovery and investigation established a design language and defined the user journeys within the product to inform the technical design and architecture.


The core areas for development included the app’s back end built around Azure, and the mobile and web applications. Using Azure ensures the app is both highly scalable and secure, both key concerns of large retailers. Dootrix delivered a hybrid storage approach using Azure SQL and Cosmos DB for differing data requirements, with Azure Functions for the APIs and Azure AD B2C for authentication.


Innovative features


be Retail Social wanted a number of features included, many of them innovative: 

Dynamic styling: Every aspect of the app and the design – large or small – is governed by a dynamic style sheet. This allows retailers to skin the product throughout with their own branding.

Multi Language Support: All the text is pulled from external sources to allow for easy translation for users.

Sliders: Clothes and styles can be swapped with a swipe, seamlessly loading videos as users move between options.

Changing room experience:

  • Session creation should be simple with the option for shoppers to invite others to join them, to replicate the shared experience of a shopping trip to a high street or shopping centre.
  • Changing room interiors synchronised .
  • Instant messaging enabled for groups using a given room.

Faceswap: The app lets users superimpose their profile photo on the 3D model’s face.

Asset Swap: Lets retailers replace the static image assets on their website with dynamic models that change as the user starts to personalise their avatar and selects different clothing styles and colours.

Location detection: Users can get push notifications when they’re near stores stocking the clothes they have previously tried on.


Multi-platform delivery

Among the standout aspects of the project and implementation was its multi-platform delivery: a web-based platform with a companion mobile app. A lot of thought went into ensuring the app could be integrated easily into multiple retailers’ websites, as did the need for delivering a highly responsive service so multiple users can share experiences in near real-time.


There was also potentially a major challenge with data volumes – the variety of body types combined with the number of clothing lines and colourways mean the potential permutations multiply exponentially into the millions. The Dootrix team mitigated the impact of that by focusing on available items and, if a particular combination was unavailable, providing a substitute closest to the user’s own appearance.


“From a Dootrix standpoint it’s always very rewarding to work alongside a client, helping them to hone their vision to accommodate technical realities and achieve their goals despite the challenges we inevitably encounter,’ says Dootrix’s Technical Lead, Wayne McManus. “be Retail Social has great ideas about how to bridge the virtual and real worlds better and it was a privilege to be a sounding board, partner, and companion on the journey, as well as to deliver the project.”



The project gave be Retail Social  a product that allowed it to take a fully functioning solution to potential partners in the retail sector. It includes a full range of innovative features that were new to the market, from shareable virtual fitting rooms with live chat to geo-location-triggered notifications on the mobile app.


CEO Simon Iddon is very pleased with how the two teams, be Retail Social and Dootrix, collaborated. “The initial MVP was well received and since then has had many upgrades, including ongoing sprints for further upgrades and improvements. We’ve articulated the gap between real and virtual shopping experiences and identified how that can be bridged; although technical ourselves, we are very open to hear opinions and alternative tacks. We work well as a combined team.”


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