Despite retailers’ repeated attempts to solve the footwear fitting challenge online, many still have high return rates of 30 to 40 percent. The reality is customers typically try on five or more pairs of shoes when shopping in store to find the right fit. And when shopping online, customers are sometimes buying two to three sizes in the same brand and style to see what works best. Shoe sizes often vary from brand to brand and from style to style. But perhaps the biggest reason shoe fitting online has been hard to solve comes down to habit and our existing measurement tools today.
For years, retailers have been measuring feet with just one or two dimensions with tools such as the Brannock device, released in 1925. It worked because people bought shoes exclusively in stores and could try them on. Shoppers could try on as many pairs as they needed to find the right fit. But now, with more and more purchases being made online, measuring and fitting solutions haven’t evolved much, nor have these solutions been made available to the online world until recently.
According to the Aetrex team, the online fitting problem begins with the lack of dimensions captured during the measurement process. They explain that feet are three-dimensional objects and so are our shoes. With that in mind, how you could possibly find a good fitting shoe for your feet when measuring in just one or two dimensions like length and width?
“Up until now, retailers have been relying on two dimensions, such as length and width, to help customers find the right fitting footwear. But by capturing 3D measurements of a customer’s feet by way of a foot scan, retailers can gather complete, accurate data, such as length, width, girth, instep height, arch height, and much more. An accurate 3D foot scan can digitally recreate your foot in space. This is the first step to finding the best fitting shoe, especially when shopping online,” said Larry Schwartz, CEO at Aetrex, Inc.
Aetrex, a technology company that also develops orthotics and comfort footwear, launched its proprietary FitGenius™ AI platform in 2021 in response to the difficulties that brands and retailers have faced when helping customers find the right fit online. Aetrex’s FitGenius AI platform is the match-making software in the company’s foot scanning technology systems.
The FitGenius platform learns quickly which styles and sizes fit best for each foot type. It does so by categorizing each customer’s unique foot profile into groups with customers who have similar 3D measurements. And, it knows which shoes fit each foot type best based on purchase history and return data of those profile groups, making suggestions that can truly fit best.
FitGenius provides customers with footwear recommendations by way of a scoring system. Each shoe is rated with a FitGenius score from 1-100, with 100 representing the perfect fit. Typically shoes that rank an 85 or above are considered a good fit, according to Aetrex. The program also recommends the ideal size for each style recommended, knowing which shoes run larger or smaller based on shopping data.
“Retailers had been asking for a way to reduce returns online while creating relevance and building long-term customer loyalty,” said Schwartz. “FitGenius is an omnichannel experience. The customer can access the platform when shopping in store, on the retailer’s e-commerce site and on the brand’s social media channels. The FitGenius data can also be applied to digital marketing messages so the retailer can make ongoing, personalized recommendations to drive conversions. By offering up personalized shoe recommendations no matter where the consumer shops, FitGenius helps keep shoppers within the retailer’s brand funnel, building loyalty.”
There are benefits to the data collection program beyond returns. Vertical brands who use Aetrex foot scanning technology also stand to benefit from learning common traits among their customer base to help develop tailored products. By reviewing the data, a brand can better understand the most common three-dimensional foot types in their stores. They can use this information to develop shoe lasts and footwear that will better support their customers’ feet.
Learn more about Aetrex and the FitGenius AI technology here.