In the poker game of retail, brick-and-mortar shoe stores still have an ace up their sleeve: fit expertise. But thanks to Shoefitr’s virtual sizing technology, e-tailers now have a way to compete. Up until now, shopping online has been a trial-and-error game of chance for consumers that also costs millions of dollars in shipping charges every year between buyer and seller when the shoes don’t fit properly. Now, the aptly titled platform has stepped up to change that. “Shoefitr is a pretty classic example of technology meeting a growing need in the market,” states Matt Wilkinson, who co-founded the company with Nick End and Breck Fresen after one too many ill-fitting experiences of their own.
So how does it work? The app uses a database of internal shoe measurements, acquired using 3-D imaging technology, which allows it to compare the size and shape of a shoe a shopper is currently wearing, to one he or she wants to buy. “We also characterize the deformation of the shoe when it’s weight bearing and the upper elasticity of the material since those measurements change considerably when a person is standing in a shoe,” Wilkinson explains.
When Shoefitr first launched in 2011 it focused its attention on the athletic market, but it quickly expanded to include other categories and retailers. Today its client list of 55 includes Nordstrom, OnlineShoes.com, Heels.com, Cole Haan and more. Installation is free for retailers, as is the scanning service, but Shoefitr does charge a small commission when the application leads to a purchase. “The nice thing is we have seen organic growth in usage of our application, within a retailer or brand’s site, of more than 200 percent year-over-year with very little marketing efforts,” Wilkinson says. For retailers, the most tangible benefit is the reduction in returns (25 percent) and increase in conversion rates (12 percent), but the bigger opportunity is the value it adds to consumers. As Wilkinson puts it, “It instills confidence in their purchase by providing visualization with relevant information so consumers no longer have to go into a store or worry about fit-related returns.”