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Why Fleet Feet Opened a Stock-Free Store

Fleet Feet is the latest retailer to go inventory-free in the name of convenience.

As the newest location to join Fleet Feet’s more than 180-strong store base, the Fleet Feet Drop Shop opened its doors in Portland, Ore., on March 5, with a grand opening event soon to follow.

The 1,300-square-foot store eschews inventory, instead giving customers free two-day delivery on shoes they purchase at the shop.

“There’s nothing more frustrating for the customer than not having the shoe size and color they want in stock,” said Fleet Feet Drop Shop owner Wade Pannell, who owns another 10 of the brand’s stores across Idaho, Oregon and Washington. “We saw an opportunity to develop a concept shop sized for the urban retail environment that doubled down on convenience and selection for the customer.”

Portland, Ore.'s Fleet Feet Drop Shop retail concept has no inventory but offers 3D foot scanning technology and free two-day shipping.
Inside Fleet Feet’s new Drop Shop small-footprint retail concept. Wade Pannell

By choosing to keep its inventory of performance footwear off site, Pannell said, Fleet Feet can make use of the entire footprint to improve the customer experience.

Fleet Feet’s Fit ID 3D foot-scanning technology, supplied by Volumental in collaboration with Superfeet, lies at the heart of the store experience. Consumers can step on Fit ID platform scanner to generate a detailed scan of their feet in seconds.

Although on-location employees will be available to offer footwear recommendations based on need and shoe size, the Fleet Feet Drop Shop will also make use of the retailer’s Fit Engine algorithm, which collects and analyzes sizing data to make its own recommendations based on the more than 2 million scans Fleet Feet has accumulated since it starting collecting data in 2017.

Portland, Ore.'s Fleet Feet Drop Shop retail concept has no inventory but offers 3D foot scanning technology and free two-day shipping.
Fleet Feet shoppers can use the store’s FitID scanner to get an accurate picture of their foot size. Courtesy

The Fleet Feet Drop Shop will have nearly three dozen of the top men’s and women’s performance footwear styles on hand from brands including Hoka One One and Brooks so shoppers can get a feel for materials, quality and silhouette.

The new store also plans to host running clubs and training programs for the local community, the retailer said.

“We look forward to learning from both the results and the customer reception of Fleet Feet Drop Shop to identify other potential opportunities like it in urban environment across the country,” Fleet Feet CEO Joey Pointer said.