Shoppers have a hard time finding footwear that fits well; a study done by the National Library of Medicine found that 72 percent of participants were wearing ill-fitting shoes. Wearing the wrong shoes is not just uncomfortable but it can have long-term health effects like ingrown toenails and calluses.
Volumental wants to change that with the footwear fit tech firm‘s launch a self-service version of its AI-powered foot scanners.
Specifically designed for a shopper-driven in-store experience, customers can take their own foot measurements at the click of a button and receive their best-fitting footwear recommendations on their phones, making it easy to select and purchase shoes.
“Our new self-service scanners will bring the same technology that specialty footwear retailers have enjoyed to many more retail segments,” Alper Aydemir, CEO of Volumental, said. “Having worked with footwear retailers across different store formats, service environments and staffing models, we realized the need for a self-service enabled shopping experience that is both innovative and easy to use for shoppers. This solution takes the guesswork out of the whole fitting experience and helps shoppers make smarter and faster purchase decisions with better fit outcomes. The personalized recommendations create a more engaging customer experience, allow retailers to manage inventory in a much smarter way, and help solve the huge returns issue facing the industry.”
Volumental, which says it has scanned 36 million feet to date, expects to launch this globally, starting with some stores in the sporting goods industry, outlet malls and brand warehouses later this year. The company’s data shows that foot scanning improves the customer experience, with scanned shoppers purchasing at twice the rate of unscanned consumers and generating 32.5 percent higher average transactions. The results also show a 25 percent reduction in returns in-store, a key issue that has long plagued retail.
The new product will launch worldwide after Volumental successfully beta tested the technology with Baltimore-based Under Armour. Other brands including Hoka, Red Wing Shoes, New Balance, Fleet Feet and The Athlete’s Foot also use its in-store foot scanners to help them offer a more personalized customer journey. Adidas and Lululemon leveraged Volumental’s data to develop better-fitting shoes designed specifically for women’s feet.
“In this specific beta test of ‘shopper-led scanning’ with Under Armour—and with XXL in Europe—we all went in with certain preconceived notions about how the customer experience flow should go and what the user interface should look like as a result,” Brent Hollowell, chief marketing officer at Volumental, said. “In some areas, those ideas were validated, but we also got several key learnings that caused us to make substantial changes based on actual shopper behavior during a self-service journey. As a result of the process, the end product is improved. But, as is the case with all technology solutions, including fit tech, we’re never really finished and this beta version will continue to evolve.”
The Sweden-based company’s self-service scanners will be placed in dedicated co-branded spaces in-store. Touch screens will instruct customers on how to use the scanner and display personalized size recommendations on which brands and styles offer them the best fit.
Volumental matches individual 3D foot scans to actual purchase data from millions of feet. In one click and less than five seconds, its 3D scanner gathers 11 different foot measurements and all the data needed for its AI-powered Fit Engine to offer personalized footwear recommendations. The solution is intended to empower retailers and brands to build a new omnichannel customer journey, reconsider the limits of current sizing systems, and unlock their unique value across in-store and online channels.
“Since the beginning of Volumental, we’ve honed our product in conjunction with our retail partners in the only testing lab that really matters—the retail sales floor,” Hollowell said. “That was true in developing the ideal customer journey in multiple footwear categories such as run specialty with early customers like Fleet Feet and New Balance, in hockey specialty shops with Bauer, in kids shoes with Stride Rite, in ski boots with Wintersteiger, and in work boots with Red Wing Shoes, to name just a few.”
The company secured a $13 million investment in December 2022 and reported an 85 percent increase in revenue last year, scanning 500,000 pairs of feet a month. Volumental said its foot-scanning technology and AI-powered recommendation engine have helped users reduce returns by an average of 20 percent.
Foot fit technology, particularly foot-scanning tech, has been on the rise in recent years as brands and retailers attempt to tackle the growing demand for more size options and reduce return rates.
Aetrex, a provider of foot scanning technology, orthotics and comfort and wellness footwear, launched the Foot.com Data Portal in September, a dedicated platform to help global shoe manufacturers create better-fitting footwear. Foot.com subscribers can click a map view and extract global 3D foot data broken down by gender, foot size, country and more.
In 2021, Lore launched its debut style, the world’s “first 3D-printed hard-shelled carbon shoe,” it claimed, for $1,900 a pair. The cycling shoe, dubbed the LoreOne, blends more than a dozen patent-pending features, including a 3D-scanning platform designed to ensure every 100 percent custom pair completely molds to the wearer’s foot.
Also in 2021, FitMyFoot, a custom insoles and sandals manufacturer, released a made-to-order custom-fit version of its slide sandals. The company created 3D-printed custom footwear using body capture technology. The FitMyFoot Comfort Plus Slides are engineered to rival medical-grade orthotics in both comfort and price and can be fitted and pre-ordered in more than 60 colors and styles using a smartphone.