If you watched last month’s launch of StoreAI, you’ll have seen me experiencing a new way to buy shoes. I have to say, it was fast, easy, and fun.
I don’t know about you, but I always find buying shoes to be a tedious, frustrating process. Even when you know your size, you have to try on so many pairs to find something that’s actually comfortable. I’m sure you’re all familiar with asking, “do you have this one a size larger?” or, “do you have something like this but not quite so tight across the top of my foot?” Every time, the store assistant has to go and look in the back, come back with more boxes of shoes, and you’re spending most of your time just sitting around waiting. And that’s even more you get to things like, “this feels great, but do you have it in a different color?” You often end up buying shoes that aren’t really what you want or don’t quite fit right, just so you can get out of the shop without feeling like you wasted your time.
Volumental solves this problem. Their FitTech solution uses a foot scanner to create a 3D model of your foot in just a few seconds. This gives them not just the two standard measurements – length and width – but ten measurements, such as arch height, instep height, heel width, and ball width. This gives a much more detailed indication of the ideal shoe. I was surprised to discover that I have very high feet and high arches – this explains why so many shoes feel uncomfortably tight across the top and don’t give me good support underneath.
So far, so good, but here’s where it gets really smart.
FitTech then uses AI to match your foot measurements against the actual shape of the shoes in their database and figure out which will be the best fit. This includes a range of styles, such as sneakers or formal shoes. They also cross-reference this with the retailer’s inventory, so you can see exactly what’s currently available in your size, as well as all the different color options and pricing.
Then, using the Grid integration, I can select the shoes I want to try. This sends a notification to staff. They bring them right to me so I can try them on, and they can also take payment on a mobile POS, which means I don’t have to go to a checkout.
This is great, because it means I’m not wasting time trying on shoes that aren’t going to be comfortable. Every shoe recommended by FitTech will be a good fit, so I only have to worry about what looks good. And there’s never a question about what’s in stock – that's all taken care of by the inventory lookup.
Volumental’s technology has an immediate impact on revenue: on average, sales increase by 20%, and returns drop by 18%. In addition, over 70% of customers opt to have their foot data emailed to them, which provides an opportunity to enroll them in a loyalty program or send them marketing information.
This kind of friction-free, personalized shopping experience is made possible by the combination of store digitalization and AI. It’s making use of expert knowledge and applying it to a very specific market in order to address problems that are unique to that sector. I am sure that in the coming months we’re going to see many more solutions designed for other niche markets.