It’s time for footwear companies to stop thinking about fit as a technical problem and start understanding the emotional impact that fit has on the consumer’s journey.
That was one of the key takeaways from the WWD Tech Forum session, “The Great Fit: Sizing in a Consumer-Centric Market,” which featured Alper Aydemir, CEO and co-founder of Volumental, and Mike VanGoethem, VP and client services officer at Red Wing. The session was moderated by Arthur Zaczkiewicz, executive editor of strategic content development at WWD.
Red Wing, which has been around since 1905, really hasn’t changed very much, VanGoethem noted. In fact, the brand’s recent marketing campaign highlighted that fact, saying the brand has actually been “out of fashion since 1905.” But the reason Red Wing has continued to maintain loyal consumers and attract new ones is its focus around two key pillars — quality and service — and fit, he said, is an integral component in both.
“Fit is still the No. 1 attribute or requirement from consumers in all footwear and apparel purchases agnostic of channel,” said VanGoethem. “Consumer anxiety, if you want to put it that way, largely lies in fit, and it’s a significant variable in their valuation of your brand. And for us, it’s not just table stakes, it’s about safety and protection for our end consumers.”
With a line of work shoes, VanGoethem explained that Red Wing acknowledges that if a shoe fits better, not only can people perform their jobs better, but they will be more confident and productive in the work that they do or in the tasks that they seek to accomplish.
To create the ultimate fit experience, Red Wing rolled out Volumental’s 3D fit scanning in 500 stores across the U.S. The installment has enabled better consumer engagement and the creation of consumer profiles with data capture records.
“We didn’t have these profiles before, but most importantly, it creates great theater at retail, which is something post-pandemic that a lot of retailers are looking to deliver to get consumers back in stores,” said VanGoethem. “Fit doesn’t just need to be a task. It doesn’t need to be the antiquated putting your feet in a Brannock device. It can be an engaging and memorable experience.”
Volumental’s 3D scan also provides a more in-depth reading of a foot’s characteristics. These results are displayed on an iPad for the store associate and provide not only size but unique attributes that might set the consumer apart from the population and provide product recommendations.
“We email consumers their scan, too, which is something really engaging,” said Aydemir. “We see about 70 percent of people not only open the email but click on the link that takes you to that 3D scan. And across a six-month period, they’re accessing the scan at least five times. It’s sort of the start of the relationship, and from there onwards, the fit profile, the metadata enhances the experience online, and the next time they visit the store.”
To that end, Aydemir said consumers’ fit profiles are channel-agnostic, which is important considering the new omnichannel consumer that has consistently changed behaviors throughout the pandemic. Understanding that companies need to get each channel right, Volumental helps to analyze consumer preferences and loyalties to online and in-store shopping.
What can be sure is that fit always comes out on top across all platforms.
“If you analyze both channels, fit is the No. 1 requirement of consumers both for footwear and apparel purchases,” said VanGoethem. “We believe that it’s best executed in what we would call a full-service transaction in-store with a 3D footwear scan with a guided footwear recommendation from an expert. Consumer engagement and loyalty lie in our fit accuracy, and consumer satisfaction has increased significantly in-store since implementing this technology.
“For consumers viewing our brand online, we see it as an opportunity to make a connection. We can let them experience our brand values and our history. They can look at the assortment, but it’s also a big opportunity for us to educate them on fit. We call it our ultimate fit experience, and we invite them to come to a Red Wing Shoe Store and participate in that process.”