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Nike Puts Invertex Acquisition to Work With New High-Tech Foot Sizing Tool

According to Nike, three out of every five people are likely wearing the wrong shoe size, leaving over half a million people to lament their footwear purchases in North America alone.

With the announcement of its new digital footwear sizing solution—Nike Fit—on Thursday, the brand said it is aiming to fix that problem for good.

Nike said its new sizing solution will be accessible in-store and directly from the Nike app and will use “computer vision, data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and recommendation algorithms” to provide a unique foot size—not shoe size—that will be able to migrate across the app to provide sizing recommendations for every available style it carries.

By measuring the user’s actual foot and not simply adhering to the somewhat outmoded standard sizes, Nike claims its Fit program can help to both limit returns and improve the customer experience.

“Using your smartphone’s camera, Nike Fit will scan your feet, collecting 13 data points mapping your foot morphology for both feet within a matter of seconds,” Nike wrote in a statement. “This hyper-accurate scan of your unique foot dimension can then be stored in your NikePlus member profile and easily used for future shopping online and in-store.”

In 2018, Nike acquired Invertex, a tech startup that specializes in computer vision. Since then, it has seemed like only a matter of time before it put the tech firm’s new capabilities to use. Nike’s acquisition may turn out to be a smart investment. Returns, especially in footwear, can be brutal for brands with a large e-commerce presence like Nike. Just over the past holiday season, consumers were expected to return an estimated total of $1.39 billion in goods with poor fit being a common complaint.

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Nike Fit technology
Nike Fit in action. Courtesy of Nike

To support the case for Fit, Nike pointed out that the current footwear sizing standard in both the U.S. and the U.K. still uses the barleycorn, the size of a grain of barley, understood to equal one-third of an inch. This standard has been used since around the year 1300 A.D. and can be highly limiting when it comes to trying to nail down the perfect size for footwear, especially under conditions where athletic performance is a factor.

With Nike Fit, shoppers will be able to purchase footwear with a much higher degree of confidence and accuracy. The sizing recommendations provided by the app even change depending on the intended purpose of an individual shoe. Nike records and saves each user’s footwear data on the app in order to apply this information to each style.

“For example, if you have used Nike Fit to scan your feet and you go to purchase a Nike Cortez on the Nike app, you won’t see a run of sizes anymore. Instead, you’ll just see your size for that particular shoe,” Nike explained. “Then, if you go to buy a Nike Air Zoom Pegasus you might see another size. That’s because different shoes are made with different performance intent—a running shoe works best for the athlete when a little more snug while a sportswear shoe is designed to have more room for everyday wear.”

Because many consumers shop for people outside of themselves, Nike designed the app to handle sizing data from multiple individuals. For example, a father can use his Nike app to collect fit data for his son prior to purchasing a pair of sneakers. For in-store sizing, Nike says visitors can step onto a “specially developed Nike Fit mat” and pass on their fit information to store employees.

Nike expects to roll out Nike Fit on its app and in-store over the summer, although a specific date has yet to be set.