Volumental’s FitTech technology makes shoes that didn’t fit before

Volumental aims to modernize the shoe shopping experience by helping customers find their exact shoe size and recommending suitable shoes. Because footwear standards are wildly inconsistent, shoe returns are a major headache for the retail industry, with 44% of shoppers saying they’ve returned shoes and more than 70% returning shoes for an improper fit. Volumental has helped its retail partners reduce returns by 20 percent, the company said.

Alper Aydemir, co-founder and CEO of Volumental, said the technology, called FitTech, matches consumers with perfect shoes using computer vision, market data and artificial intelligence, which has “learned” from 30 million 3D foot scans from clients, including Under Armour.
UAA
New Balance, Fleet Feet, Red Wing Shoes, The Athlete’s Foot, Stride Rite and Road Runner Sports, among others.

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With a background in technology, including a PhD in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Aydemir worked in NASA’s robotics division and was a member of Google
GOOG
Augmented Reality Initiative.

“I guess my heart is in building products and scaling technology that can solve real-world problems,” he said. “I’m in the fashion, footwear industry. I am solving an important problem. Our vision is to shape a future where everyone exists and what we do is match people with products that will fit them perfectly. We want to understand this emotional space. Size isn’t a number, it’s a feeling. How it fits and how it makes you feel.”

“This is the future of retail,” Aydemir said. “The first use case is brick and mortar in stores. Within four seconds you can do a scan of your feet. Then we move on to the recommendations. When you include this in your email marketing, it doubles the number of conversions.”

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Volumental is now working to bring the experience to mobile phones. “It’s not a trick, you learn something about your body. Consumers open Volumental’s FitTech multiple times and use it online.”

Clothing is on Aydemir’s mind, but applying Volumental technology to clothing is not imminent. “Product development is near and dear to us,” he said. “Some shoe companies based on the scans, have revamped their entire lines. If we get there, it will be by making products that fit better. Instead of giving me the sixth color of the shoe, why don’t you create more width. Women have to go up a size and sometimes it doesn’t fit well.

“We are leading the conversation with some of the biggest footwear brands,” added Aydemir. “At the moment we are just footwear, but we want to get into clothing. I am a firm believer in doing one thing very well. I really want to make the shoes vertical well. We bring a lot of value to a lot of people. We can take these lessons and apply them to clothing.

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FitTech starts by scanning feet, collecting shape and size data from millions of people around the world. This database of 3D foot scans matches FinTech’s purchase of data from Volumental’s retail partners. Advanced algorithms crunch the numbers to create size and style recommendations. Because shoppers have the opportunity to create a profile based on their 3D scans, they can quickly connect to loyalty programs and email campaigns.

Alex Tollman, director of retail experience at Fleet Feet, said 75% of the retailer’s customers are scanned when they visit stores. “Consumers are finding that their actual shoe size is different than what they thought all along. We understand that a lot. One of the most interesting things is that people do not realize that they have wide feet. They are used to wearing shoes that are too long for them so they have that extra width in the front of the shoe.

“After we go through the scanning process, we show them that,” Tollman added. “They can wear shoes that fit better with a wide selection so they don’t trip over the toes. One of the biggest insights we realized was that there’s such an untapped opportunity in width, so we’ve significantly increased what we offer in wide shoes.”

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