Red Wing Shoe Company has upgraded its in-person fitting capabilities across its more than 500 retail stores, offering shoppers a new-and-improved AI-driven “Ultimate Fit Experience” that now includes 3D foot scanning.
As part of the Ultimate Fit Experience, a Red Wing fit specialist will help customers build a customized fit system that encompasses their boot, insole and sock sizes, starting with a personal assessment of their work environment conditions and safety requirements.
Augmenting the experience is foot scanning technology from Volumental, which enables customers to step onto a 3D scanner that can assess 16 foot measurements in less than five seconds, including length, width, arch height, forefoot height, heel width and more. They then walk across a pressure plate for a dynamic foot scan providing a visualization of their gait and pressure points.
“We saw an opportunity to advance the Ultimate Fit Experience to provide an even more personalized fit for our customers,” Mike VanGoethem, vice president and chief services officer, Red Wing Shoe Company, said in a statement. “Our previous experience focused on standard 2D measurement and foot pressure points, and now we are enhancing that, adding in gait assessment and whole foot volume 3D measurement. We’re excited to merge the art of our purpose-built shoes, with the science of this new dynamic, tech-driven approach to ensure the best fit for worker comfort and safety.”
After conducting a study on sizing in 2021, Volumental found that consistency remains a problem even within styles of the same brand. Of 69 different Nike styles examined, Volumental found only two that fit Nike’s definition of a size 9. Volumental CEO Alper Aydemir told Sourcing Journal that fit technology is a more practical solution than figuring out sizing consistency itself, noting “if the footwear industry could fix sizing through better design and manufacturing methods, they would have done it by now.”
The customized technology creates a digital 3D model of the customer’s feet, which is used to recommend their ideal work boot size and any additional foot support. The scanning tech integrates dynamic pressure mapping, which measures metrics such as the unique foot path as well as each foot’s weight distribution. Volumental’s recommendation algorithm is designed to become smarter and more accurate with each scan and purchase decision a user makes, accounting for preferences such as tighter- or looser-fitting footwear.
Volumental, which secured a $13 million investment in December, built the app with the same technology that powers more than 3,000 3D scanners in stores for retailers such as Hoka, Canada Goose, Fleet Feet, New Balance, Bauer and The Athlete’s Foot. In fact, Lululemon leveraged the company’s fit technology and back-end scanning data throughout the testing process to develop its first women’s footwear collection.
In partnership with Superfeet, Red Wing Shoes stores will also offer insole recommendations and allow consumers to purchase custom 3D-printed footbeds that are designed and printed for their unique foot shape and movement patterns, then mailed directly to the customer. These custom footbeds are built to help reduce fatigue on feet with a combination of custom arch support, flex zones and flex lines, designed to enhance natural motion and help feet move more efficiently.
From there, Red Wing can combine data collected from the personal assessment and foot scan with retail purchase data and custom AI-driven technology to provide tailored recommendations across its footwear catalog. The experience is designed to leave shoppers inspired and confident in their work boot purchase.
“I hear positive feedback of the Ultimate Fit Experience process nearly every day from at least a customer or two,” said Branden Rion, a store associate at the Virginia Beach, Va. Red Wing store location. “Once customers have a better visual understanding of things like sizing, arch height and foot pressure distribution, they’re more liable to make purchases based off of that.”
The boot manufacturer has not indicated whether it is integrating the Volumental technology into e-commerce, which would allow online shoppers to access recommendations based on their in-store measurements. The data extracted from the tech can also aid the brand in creating personalized marketing campaigns across social media and email.
Volumental recently extended its capabilities to individual shoppers via a mobile app rollout, where individual shoppers can capture their own measurements and use them to create “smart foot” profiles. An API of the app also can be integrated into existing iOS apps for retailers and brands looking to leverage the technology. To date, Volumental says it has scanned more than 24 million feet.