Retail and manufacturing innovations continue to reach new heights, but one element remains at the core of footwear: fit. Consumers are coming to expect tailored shopping experiences and easy online checkouts, but this means nothing if the shoes they purchase are not the right size or shape for their feet. As consumers continue to buy more online, the task of selecting the perfect fit is an ongoing challenge.
To address this, select retailers have recently adopted foot scanning as a fit solution for their stores. Now, thanks to the leaders in the foot scanning space, all retailers regardless of size can have an affordable, omnichannel solution.
Since 2002, Aetrex has been developing foot scanning technology with the mission to support foot health and comfort. Operating the largest technology development team in the industry, the company benefits from an Apple-like engineering model where the development for both hardware and software is executed by one team, making for an integrated, seamless product experience. The result is the company’s ability to develop the most advanced scanning systems and yield comprehensive data, benefiting both the customer and the retailer.
Aetrex’s commitment to innovation is realized in their continued development of scanners and corresponding software. The company’s latest priority? Making the future of foot scanning technology accessible for retailers of all sizes and scopes.
The Fit Conundrum & Scanning Technology
One would think shoe fitting is just about length and width, based on the standard foot measurement tools in retail today. However, so much more goes into finding the right fit, from the instep height and girth of feet, to arch type and how the shoe is shaped and built. These details, such as if it runs narrow or tall, can affect the overall fit. With so many factors at play, it’s no wonder shoe fitting can be a challenge, especially when buying online.
Foot scanners are an innovative retail tool that are designed to help solve the fitting challenge. The foot scanning landscape today at retail is comprised of two types of scanners: One type measures the pressure under your foot, the other captures 3D measurements of the foot (length, width, height, arch height, girth, etc). Pressure scanners provide data that can help identify the best orthotic for one’s feet, to alleviate pain or prevent injury. Meanwhile, scanners that capture 3D measurements are more focused on helping retailers and shoppers find the right fitting footwear – on the first try.
“I think it’s important to have options for retailers,” said Larry Schwartz, CEO at Aetrex Worldwide. “We have customers that only want pressure and orthotics. We also know there’s tremendous demand for 3D measurements and customized shoe fitting, and we think there’s a lot of demand for having an all-in-one scanner that does both. The type of scanner really depends on the store and their needs.”
Aetrex launches Albert 3DFit this summer on the heels of the Albert 2 Pro launch last fall. The all-in-one Albert 2 Pro combines 3D fit measurements with pressure analysis, so users can receive personalized orthotic recommendations and footwear recommendations by style and size. But as Schwartz confirmed, not every retailer requires this breadth of application. Some are seeking a singular shoe fitting solution that is highly accurate, intelligent and easy to use. The Albert 3DFit scanner is laser focused on this growing demand for 3D shoe fitting.
“We created the Albert 3DFit to address the demand for finding the right fitting footwear, whether consumers are shopping in store, on a retailer’s website, or through an email or social media post,” said Schwartz. “The future of shoe fitting is combining 3D fit measurements with AI technology that learns how footwear styles fit by brand, style and size. It’s this combination that can provide dramatic improvements on the shoe recommendation process and offer suggestions that truly fit.”
The stylish and compact Albert 3DFit scanner captures a customer’s 3D measurements in less than 10 seconds. The foot data is then analyzed and compared against real shoe measurements in the database, in order to identify perfect matches and recommend exact sizing.
The Intelligence of FitGenius™
FitGenius, the proprietary artificial intelligence platform, is Aetrex’s match making software. It takes a shopper’s individual 3D foot profile and instantly analyzes it to make custom footwear recommendations, based on a retailer’s inventory. The FitGenius plug-in also allows retailers to provide fit guidance and recommendations long after a customer has left the store, which is critical in today’s omnichannel retail landscape. Once a consumer has had their feet scanned, FitGenius shoe recommendations are accessible on whatever channel the customer shops from, enabling merchants to provide an in-store service that also provides benefits to the retailer and consumer in digital formats.
“In-store, if you get the wrong fit, it’s just another trip back to the stock room to get the next pair of shoes,” said Schwartz. “Typically with online purchases, it’s planes or trucks going back and forth. That’s another nice factor with this streamlined technology: as we reduce returns with e-commerce, it’s environmentally friendly too. We feel good about that.”
Reduction of returns is not just a convenience-boost for the consumer, but also a huge cost-saver for the merchant. Particularly in footwear, where lack of universal sizing can lead many customers to “bracket” and buy multiple sizes at once, returns are a financial and logistical drain. For retailers that rely on e-commerce sales, finding a way to improve that initial purchase experience can have significant impact on the bottom-line.
The Added Value of Aetrex
Investing in the Albert 3DFit Scanner provides more than just accurate foot information. This specialized product also provides additional benefits throughout the merchant’s business.
One important added value opportunity is the vast amount of data collected by the scanner and the ability to analyze it to glean insights. The Control Panel website provides a destination where retailers can log in to review and analyze customer foot data and sales data. Retailers even have insight into individual sales associate commissions and local store performance. Through this information, retailers can identify multiple opportunities to both boost sales and reduce inefficiencies.
“I think one of the underlying things that a lot of people don’t realize is how much this technology can help with R&D when you develop future product. Knowing your consumer and what their feet are truly like in 3 dimensions will lead to better fitting shoes from the brands that partner with us,” said Schwartz.
Large-scale production capabilities and Aetrex’s wealth of experience has enabled the company to create a cost-effective manufacturing process to offer the Albert 3DFit at a purchase price of $1,995, a fraction of the cost of the competition. And as part of the monthly SaaS fee of just $150 per month, retailers receive in-store training, ongoing field service and support, and access to the Control Panel and Data Center. Retailers are also able to leverage Aetrex’s Learning Center which provides deeper insight into foot care, through both audio and visual means.
Voice activation is another great point of convenience, particularly when servicing customers in-store; the scanning process itself can also be triggered through voice commands.
By offering its most innovative and accurate sizing technology at an accessible price point, Aetrex is hoping to change how footwear retailers approach fit guidance with the Albert 3DFit Scanner.
“Retail will always have a place for brick and mortar, but we think the more e-commerce grows, physical footprints may become smaller and fitting technology will be more seamlessly integrated into e-commerce programs,” said Schwartz. “The ideal way to achieve this is to have a 3DFit scanner in your store so you can then communicate with your consumer anywhere they shop and on an ongoing basis.”