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How Aetrex’s New In-Store 3D Foot Scanner Aims to Bridge Shopping Channels

Aetrex, the company that develops and sells in-store foot scanning technology alongside its own footwear and orthotics, has a new tool for retailers seeking to optimize consumers’ feet measurements. Starting in February, Aetrex’s retail partners will be able to deploy the Albert 2 3D foot scanner in stores to give consumers an accurate sizing experience, and ideally, reel them in for the long haul.

Albert 2, which is the latest version of the company’s Albert foot scanner first released in February 2017, can be activated in a store as soon as shoppers step onto the scanner. From there, Albert 2 takes 20 seconds or less to yield 3D measurements of the foot and then capture static or dynamic pressure. The store can determine and pick whether they use the static or dynamic pressure measurement, with the latter measuring gait and center of gravity.

The foot data from the scan can then be used to help customers and store associates find the best fitting footwear or orthotics, ideally on the first try, based on their unique foot profile.

Throughout the scanning process, a lifelike 3D animated “Albert” is showcased on a nearby screen to guide the user and respond to voice and chatbot commands and questions. The audio component, which includes a microphone for the shopper to speak into, was developed in partnership with Samsung.

Upon completion of the scanning, the customer can elect to have Albert send them their foot scan data via email, allowing users to access to their information after they leave the store.

Despite being placed in the store, the data-driven capabilities supporting the Albert 2 technology are designed to merge the in-store and online experiences for retailers, and set up the next part of the consumer journey after a shopper exits a store, according to Aetrex CEO Larry Schwartz. This is crucial in an era when shoppers are less comfortable shopping for footwear and apparel in stores, and were already slowly shifting toward more e-commerce purchases anyway.

In a demo presentation of the Albert 2 foot scanner, Schwartz said the new device addresses three key questions.

“One is, both ‘How can I get consumers to come to my store?’ and ‘How can I offer them an experience in my store that is a benefit which they can’t get online, which isn’t deliverable through an e-commerce experience and which matters to them?’” Schwartz asked. “The second question here is, ‘When I have them here, how do I increase my productivity per square foot, and particularly since traffic is down, how can I drive incremental sales or incremental profit? The third question is, ‘How do I compete for their digital attention as we’re inundated with information on our mobile devices from the brands we love?’”

Albert 2’s 3D foot scanner features 4 Intel RealSense depth cameras and 5,184 gold plated sensors to capture foot data within key measurements, such as length, width, girth, in-step and arch height. Aetrex says that the data is accurate within one-tenth of a millimeter, gathering over 3.5 million data points. The data is then converted into a 3D model of the consumers’ feet that can be viewed within the store.

The scanner includes Aetrex’s pressure plate sensor technology designed to capture complete foot data about customers’ unique arch types and pressure points. With the “dynamic test” option embedded, Albert 2 can also provide a pressure gait analysis of customers’ feet, including their center of gravity throughout the gait cycle at a rate of 30 frames per second.

Albert 2’s pressure reading function

The sensors assign numbers from zero to 256 related to the different areas of the foot measured, with the numbers then converted into a color image of the foot, according to Schwartz.

“This helps store associates explain the different level of pressure on the shopper’s foot,” Schwartz said. “You can activate a chalkboard where you could circle and show people the areas of high pressure. You can do comparison tests. What’s nice about a comparison test is that a store can put orthotics under a foot and show a before-and-after image of a scan. By doing that it just quickly redoes the scan. Any time you save your scan, we’ll have people that can pull up a scan from four or five years ago and see how their posts changed.”

Understanding the data points behind these pressure points is significant, Schwartz noted, because these are the areas people are prone to pain, discomfort and injuries.

Aetrex also is bringing its proprietary AI-powered FitHQ software into the mix, which syncs with retailers’ POS or e-commerce systems to help sales associates recommend the best Aetrex orthotics or best fitting shoes by brand, style and size per customer, based on his or her unique foot scan. This includes their percentile among U.S. customers for each measurement to help place their sizing in context.

Retailers have access to a CRM dashboard where they can gather, filter and export all Albert 2 foot scan data, as well as input customer mobile numbers, curate email address or loyalty data. This control panel helps retailers monitor the Albert 2 scanner usage by store and by sales associate. It can then filter all customer foot scan data by store, which can be used to create customized marketing programs targeted to customer’s needs based on foot size, width and arch height.

“If I have excess inventory now in women’s size 5, 6 and 11—about the center of my size curve—but I want to find all my consumers who are 5, 6 and 11 and who have low arches, and tell them this is a great shoe for lower feet, I can target them specifically with my promotion,” Schwartz said. “Maybe I’m giving that for Mother’s Day 30 percent off. The impact on the bottom line is very meaningful, in that instead of having to promote the entire shoe, you’re targeting the sizes that are dragging down your bottom line.”

Aetrex bundles Albert 2 with Aetrex Orthotics as part of the scanning process, also giving retailers the opportunity to potentially drive add-on sales at every scan.

Aetrex Technology has placed more than 10,000 scanners worldwide since it launched its first scanning technology, the iStep, in 2002. The company has since performed more than 40 million unique customer foot scans. Upon launch, Aetrex’s Albert 2 will be made available to retailers with its basic kiosk package, starting at $2,495 or $73 per month.

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