Several months back I received an email out of the blue by a young man named Nick End. Nick introduced himself as a former collegiate runner for Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. He and two classmates had developed a program that could suggest the proper size of shoe to order based on the size of your current shoe. It could also compare the fit of different shoes using internal measurements. I was skeptical. How could you effectively and accurately compare the size and internal dimensions of various shoes?
Even though I was skeptical, I was very interested in the premise. Key barriers against customers ordering shoes online are not knowing what size to order or how a shoe will fit. If Nick actually had a program that could compare the size and fit of various models and it worked, you could increase customer confidence in ordering while hopefully decreasing the return rate. An added bonus would be the ability over time to compare shoes from past seasons to current available models. How many times have you heard “Remember Shoe X, I loved the fit of that shoe. I wish I could find a shoe that fit like that again.” Over time this would help solve that dilemma.
I corresponded back and forth via email and over the phone with Nick and his partners to find out a more background on the program. The program was dubbed Shoefitr and relies on a process of taking internal measurements of various sizes of shoes to form 2D blueprint of a shoe’s length and footprint, plus a 3D graphic of shoe’s entire internal dimensions. Shoefitr is then able to compare these measurements with any other shoe in their database.
They then sent me an initial version of the program. I had our staff try on various shoes and compare the results Shoefitr gave with how they felt the shoe fit. The staff felt that the recommendations given by Shoefitr were very accurate. I was encouraged. Couple the accurate shoe size results with a 3D feature that allows a customer to see exactly where a shoe is tighter or looser than another model and I was on board.
The Shoefitr crew then came out to our facility in San Luis Obispo for two weeks just before the 2010 Boston Marathon and proceeded to measure nearly every shoe in our warehouse which amounted to over 4,000 pairs. Each shoe is measured using 4 different sizes (i.e. men’s 7.0, 9.0, 11.0, 13.0) to get an accurate reading across all sizes. While no easy task, it did provide a great jump start on building up the reference data.
Since the Shoefitr team visited, we have sent them boxes of shoes weekly to their test lab in Pittsburgh PA for measurement. Nick and his team have consistently been monitoring customer feedback and have tweaked the program to address suggestions made by runners on ways to improve the program.
We’ve had Shoefitr on the site since this past summer and the feedback has been universally positive. Our hope is that you find Shoefitr helpful and that it improves your online shoe shopping experience. To see Shoefitr in action yourself, click on the Shoefitr icon in the “Product Details” section located to the right of the individual shoe pages on the site or for a quick peek, check out our video overview of Shoefitr here.
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