Virtual-fit tech remains a significant weapon in the battle against costly online returns – especially with increasingly demanding digital natives who actively expect personalised brand services. US shoppers alone typically send back 30% of all footwear and apparel bought online – twice the return rate of goods bought in physical stores (Customer Growth Firm, 2016).
While the complexities of fabric, styling preferences and fluctuating sizing still present obstacles for the fashion industry, the less slippery territories of footwear and accessories are witnessing more widespread innovation straddling in-store, online and mobile-primed concepts. We spotlight some of the best current initiatives.
Sports-Ready: DIY Data, On the Move
Israeli technologists Fitfully have developed a measurement and calibration system for consumer use. The ultra-accessible combination of a smartphone, a piece of newspaper and a credit card can be used to accurately assess the fit of footwear in just 30 seconds.
Fitfully’s app guides the user on how to scan their feet (the user needs to wear a patterned sock, allowing the software to recognise the shape of their foot), producing a 3D model from around 25,000 video-captured measurements. The app then provides a coloured pressure map showing where a shoe fits well (green) and where it doesn’t (red).
Primed for the sports market, Fitfully has already launched a beta website with Adidas, where shoppers can virtually try on numerous styles. It’s also working with another (currently undisclosed) footwear manufacturer and brands to build a 3D database of consumer measurements, which could be used to offer bespoke shoes.
Expert Fit, In-store
Swedish technologists Volumental partnered with US retailer Nordstrom in early 2016 on in-store tech that allows sales assistants to make more accurate footwear recommendations for both fashion and sports shoes. Customers stand on a depth-camera scanner to build a 3D image including foot-arch length and ball width. The results are then relayed to a connected tablet featuring recommendation software connected directly to Nordstrom’s entire inventory.
Volumental is currently evolving the technology for mobile use – working with Swedish brand Falchenberg and German label Scarosso to offer customised, handcrafted leather shoes.
Digitally Customising the Eyewear Retail Experience