BOT­TOM UP!

On­line re­turn rates can be as high as 40 per cent, but can in­no­va­tions in AR and VR re­duce that dra­mat­i­cally? Let’s start with our feet.

Fashion (Canada) - - Tech - By Ellen Himel­farb

On­line shop­ping is cer­tainly touted as be­ing more con­ve­nient, but is it? The idea of “Buy be­fore you try” sounds en­tic­ing, un­til you re­al­ize you have to repack­age and ship back the items that don’t fit. It’s es­pe­cially an is­sue with footwear. Re­tail­ers like ASOS and Za­lando field re­turns of up to 40 per cent. In 2013, Nick Robert­son, for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of ASOS, stated that a 1 per cent de­crease in re­turns would add $16 mil­lion to the com­pany’s bot­tom line. The is­sue is twofold: Sizes vary from one man­u­fac­turer to an­other, and ev­i­dently peo­ple don’t know the size of their feet.

FTSY (pro­nounced “footsy”) is one of a hand­ful of apps that may ad­dress the fit prob­lem. The app, which is cur­rently in early pub­lic beta test­ing, uses your smart­phone cam­era (iPhone 6s or higher) to scan your feet, cre­ates a 3-D pro­file on them and then rec­om­mends footwear brands, styles and sizes that are most likely to fit.

The team be­hind FTSY hopes that the app’s size and style rec­om­men­da­tions will elim­i­nate the need to choose a shoe size and al­low shop­pers to pur­chase con­fi­dently. If enough shop­pers size

them­selves via the app, and enough re­tail­ers adopt the tech for their web­sites, “it’ll be your ‘fit pass­port’ or dig­i­tal pro­file, where you log in and ev­ery­thing you see on the site will be guar­an­teed to fit,” ex­plains P.J. Wors­fold, head of prod­uct at FTSY.

An­drew Hanscom, founder and CEO of vFit, says that 75,000 users have scanned their feet with his app, which takes 3-D im­ages of a per­son’s feet and com­pares those im­ages with a 3-D ren­der­ing of the in­sides of a pair of shoes. He says that vFit, which is avail­able on the Ap­ple App Store and com­ing soon to Google Play, is sim­i­lar to ag­gre­ga­tors like Tri­vago, the ho­tel price-com­par­i­son site. “I took that model and did it with shoes,” he says. “We can pull in data from hun­dreds of re­tail­ers, and if you’re look­ing for a spe­cific Nike and you’ve im­aged a size 7.5, you’ll know who’s got this avail­able.” Hanscom reck­ons that his ser­vice would re­duce store re­turns to less than 2 per cent.

Add aug­mented re­al­ity (AR) to the equa­tion and on­line shoe shop­ping may be­come a no-brainer. You’ll have a per­fect fit, and by us­ing AR, you’ll be able to su­per­im­pose the shoe’s im­age onto your foot to see if you like it.

While more con­sumers are shop­ping on­line, that doesn’t mean they don’t want in­te­grated dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences in the store. At Bono­bos, an e-com­merce-driven men’s store with lo­ca­tions across the United States, shop­pers can nip in and then go home to buy on­line.

Wors­fold says FTSY hopes to in­te­grate with Shopify, a bou­tique-brand e-com­merce plat­form, and cites Mar­gaux, the fit-fo­cused di­rect-to-con­sumer footwear brand known for its bal­let flats, as a prospec­tive cus­tomer. Mean­while, Koio, a New York-based sneaker com­pany, is cur­rently beta test­ing FTSY tech­nol­ogy in its Nolita bou­tique. “We can cre­ate that bridge for brands where you scan your feet in-store and then buy on­line,” Wors­fold says. “If brands are wor­ried about Ama­zon eat­ing their lunch, they can do that.”

VFIT TAKES 3-D IM­AGES OF A PER­SON’S FEET.

FTSY AIMS TO PRO­VIDE A MORE AC­CU­RATE SHOE SIZE.

NEW YORK-BASED COM­PANY KOIO IS CUR­RENTLY TEST­ING OUT FTSY AT ONE OF ITS LO­CA­TIONS.

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