Traditional brick-and-mortar stores count on customers trying on shoes for the perfect fit. But what happens if stores are temporarily closed and consumers can’t test out a pair?
Market experts said that without an in-store experience, consumers are more readily relying on size guidelines, product recommendations and their own purchasing history. Brands that are able to provide the most accurate fit information are more likely to have satisfied customers, they said.
Yet many brands have their work cut out for them. A new study by footwear technology platform Volumental found that only 40% of men and women of average foot size (11 for men, 9 for women) fit a standard “medium” width shoe. Based off standard size recommendations available online, that suggests that 60% of customers would still experience a poor fit after purchasing.
“Retailers know the benefits of leveraging their customer data for personalization efforts, from marketing to supply chain to inventory management,” said Ales Jurca, VP of footwear research at Volumental. “But many footwear brands are not incorporating basic data into the design of their footwear.”
Assessing the foot scans of over 2 million U.S. customers at more than 600 retail stores, the report showed that offering two width options for males would provide 69% with a good fit; three choices would find matches with 87% of customers. By factoring this into production, brands can widen their base of consumers who would be a natural fit.
But Volumental believes that brands can also utilize this data for more immediate impact, particularly when used in tandem with the launch of Volumental Engage, a marketing personalization platform. Brands can use the platform to analyze past purchase history, foot scan and shoe data, and then suggest products that will replicate a good fit for each customer.
“Our data shows that some shoes that are already on the market that are labeled as medium width, actually fit to narrow or wide feet,” said Alper Aydemir, CTO and co-founder of Volumental. “Brands and retailers can use these insights to recommend best fitting shoes to each individual shoe shopper today.”
Personalized product selections can be shared with consumers through email or at various points throughout the e-commerce shopper journey. Shoppers who are being more mindful of recreational purchases right now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, may be more likely to checkout with an item with a higher likelihood of fit. And that should help brands and retailers increase conversion rates.
“Now is the time to try novel technologies that enhance customer conversation,” said Aydemir. “One thing our customers have started to do is curbside pick-up after phone fittings based on our shoe recommendations. There are so many things retailers can do but they need to move fast and innovate.”
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