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Amazon Developing 3D Technology to Reduce Footwear Returns

In Amazon’s mission to become the nation’s largest clothing retailer, they face one major hurdle that has befuddled the fashion industry for decades—returns.

Returns are responsible for billions in lost sales worldwide each year, and chief among the issues consumers site as to why they return are ill-fitting shoes and clothing.

The company is hoping to curtail returns with a system that would make sizing recommendations to customers based on a reference item. Amazon would determine similar sizing by taking internal measurements of its products, creating a database of 3D models which would be used to help customers find shoes with a similar fit.

An outline of one of the shoe measuring devices, found in a recent patent application filed by Amazon, looks a bit like a shoe-horn, and can record “toe-box width, toe-box height, girth, internal length and other related dimensions.”

The patent is nearly identical to one filed in 2012 by ShoeFitr, the Pittsburgh-based sizing technology start-up that Amazon quietly purchased last year. Both ShoeFitr’s original patent and Amazon’s apparent continuation of it state that the technology can also be extended for use in a variety of apparel items, including “jeans, pants, shirts, bras, hats and headwear, handbags.”