Shoes - still remains a difficult category for online sales. Even detailed size tables do not save: the buyer has to measure the shoes “live”. Hence such a terrible amount of returns. Retailers have long been thinking about virtual fitting. For example, the sports brand Nike even bought an entire Israeli startup for this.
But for high technology it is not necessary to travel to Israel. The Russian development team has created one of the highest quality solutions in this market. The FITTIN service includes a mobile application for customers - and special scanners for retailers, allowing you to get an accurate model of the inner surface of shoes to the smallest detail.
We spoke with the CEO of the company about how this is all arranged from the inside - and about the market of “virtual fitting rooms” for shoes
- Andrei, who had an idea for starting such a business? How did the project develop?
- At the very beginning - it was my idea from scratch. Three years ago, I managed to captivate with the idea several people from technology companies. They joined the project and began to search for a technical solution.
Underlying the marketing part of the concept was understanding: not only retail is changing, the form of relationships with the buyer is changing globally. The user's habits are changing, and therefore the promotion should work differently.
Now it’s not enough just to send information about the discounts or brand to lure the buyer. And it’s not enough to offer him any traditional advantages: quality, price, level of service. Innovation is needed, which in itself creates emotion, interest in new, modern experience and, in addition to the product. Well, it helps save time. 3,5 years ago, it hung in the air, and today we have become familiar with the terms: virtual reality, machine learning, neural networks, 3D design and much more.
- And who invested your project? Share how much effort and money was invested?
- At the very early stage, these were the own investments of a number of enthusiasts who believed in the project. Since today we are building a project with the prospect of entering international markets, we have to spend quite a lot, including in areas that are not directly related to technology. I can’t disclose the exact amount of investments, but the order of expenses for three years is running a decent one.
Now we have already turned into a full-fledged engineering company, leading constant IT-development, implementation and technical support of partners, customers - so the team is growing. We have several dozen of our own employees and dedicated contractor employees.
- Have you studied the experience of competitors? How is FITTIN different from them?
- Sure! We are analyzing the activities of our competitors as part of a separate task. And gradually we come to an interesting conclusion: no one does the same thing as we do - and this is impossible. All services seem similar, but if you look, it will become clear: everyone does different things. Someone simply compares the pads, someone only measures the length and width, and someone does not measure anything at all, but simply puts a picture of the shoe on his foot. We are building an individual for each user 3D-model of legs, no discs that similar services “pull” under the removed insole sizes.
In general, we constantly monitor and analyze the experience of competitors. If new information about them appears in open sources, we will immediately know about it. All online fitting services have diverse experience, they solve similar problems in completely different ways.
- Does FITTIN have unique developments?
- We consider our main advantages to be ease of use for the end user, mobility, and scalability of the service.
I will explain in more detail. Online shoe fitting services are divided into two types: mobile and stationary. Mobile services scan the leg using the smartphone’s camera and applications, while stationary services use special scanners in the store.
If you dig deeper, then find out that mobile services often substitute a template model instead of your foot and do not provide measurement accuracy. How did we know that? They tried to scan the mug - and the competitor’s application issued a model of the leg!
Existing stationary scanners already allow you to build fairly accurate foot models. But they are too expensive. In addition, the possibility of their use for the online store limits the fact that the buyer must at least once come to your offline point where you can scan your legs. That is why individually these services do not solve the problems of online shoe stores.
We developed FITTSCANNER (a scanner for the customer’s legs) at the price of an average flagship smartphone, which allows you to install it at any outlet and make online fitting available to everyone. I will explain right away: online fitting with FITTSCANNER and the FITTIN application is possible even if the retailer is set up for retail and does not have its own online store. Our technology allows you to build 3D-model legs with millimeter accuracy without "completion" and "averaging." At the same time, such powerful technology is placed in a smartphone. Customers really recognize the smallest features of their feet in virtual 3D models!
The same can be said of the 3D shoe models from the inside. During the development, we have manufactured and tested more than 100 prototype devices for scanning the inner surface of the shoe! The result was a complete FITT SCOPE solution for scanning shoes in a retail store or finished goods warehouse.
- How is scanning the internal volume of shoes arranged?
- The main element of the FITT SCOPE technological complex is the FITT SCAN device, its accessories and a suitcase for transportation. We relied primarily on the portability of the scanning solution. Yes, the task is very difficult, so we trust all control and processing systems to intelligent algorithms and artificial intelligence.
- Shoe manufacturers have pads and sizes in various shapes. How did you solve this problem?
- Yes, the main difficulty in selecting shoes is precisely its uniqueness. Therefore, we give great attention to manual scanning. Each shoe has its own characteristics, and not only the shape of the pads. The material varies, the direction of the patterns, decorative allowances and so on. Pipeline scanning cannot provide the necessary accuracy.
- Do you train company personnel to use your scanning system on their own?
- We train the team in outsourcing or we come to the partner ourselves and scan the shoes in the storage place. One scanner is able to process 5 articles per hour, this is 35 pairs of shoes. 5 scanners allow you to scan a collection of 5 1 models (articles) of shoes in 000 days.
- How many stores already use your service? How much does the system cost?
- In June, we started working with a large shoe retail chain. Plans to install FITTSCANNER in each store for scanning legs. Today we are already testing user experience in Voronezh and Moscow stores. A new collection of shoes has been scanned, the first purchases are made according to the results of fitting shoes online! Especially for this retail network, an instant fitting technology for outlets has been developed.
The user simply points the smartphone at the shoe price tags and the program gives him information which model is suitable taking into account personal preferences and whether it is available. At Ecom Expo 2019, we presented several of our partners: for example, the ECKO-Ros team - the Russian representative office of the famous ECCO brand - and Afourcustom - the service of individual tailoring of shoes. With a number of other large shoe companies, we are at different stages of cooperation and negotiations.
Scanning the inner surface of the shoe is one of our main advantages. We can scale easily. Separately, for the cost of a part of shoe scanning, we have a commercial offer, we send it out in the negotiation process. But it cannot be said that the introduction consists only in scanning the shoes. In addition to scanning, there is technical support, and adaptation of the user part of the service, backend, and so on.
- What are the results of the implementation of the FITTIN system? Are there any cases you can talk about (increased conversion, reduced non-buyback, etc.)
- At 2018-2019, we developed and implemented a customized virtual shoe fitting for a well-known Russian shoe brand. We conducted promotions in stores in Voronezh and in Moscow, full-scale testing on the flow of customers of the online store. Test results were found to be positive. April 1 2019 year began commercial operation of the service. We continue to collect analytics and study user experience. Current results show that more than 90% of customers are satisfied with the results of virtual fitting.
- Tell us how you tested the service during the development process. Were there focus groups or something like that?
- We gathered focus groups that methodically tried on shoes in shopping centers and recorded their feelings. Next, we compared and refined the fitting technology. And again in a circle: tuning - real fitting - tuning. A positive test result was considered when the whole focus group ideally converged sensations from a real shoe fitting with the online fitting indicators. Such testing could be delayed for a week, or even two.
For four months we tested the technology together with a well-known shoe brand. At first, the app was mastered by the shoe company’s employees themselves, then it was tested on parts of users of the online store. Then we held 2 promotions in stores where we tested the entire service: foot scans and online fitting. In the end, we are sure that the 3D model of the legs in the application is identical to the user's real legs. But the most important thing is to change the way you buy. With the help of FITTSCANNER and a mobile device, we have improved the familiar user scenario. Developed by Customer Journey Map, conducted research in a retail store, recorded the perfect result. So we got a quickly integrated full-fledged product.
- How willingly do people put the application? How to motivate a client?
- There is a FITTSCANNER solution that does not require any complicated actions from the buyer. It is enough to install the application and enter your phone number there. Moreover, if the store’s consultant has a mobile terminal, the buyer may not download the application at all. The program will do everything by itself. The simplicity of the FITTSCANNER device is the key to its success, because everyone can use it. When it comes to scanning using a mobile application, we are really faced with the problem that it was difficult for people to scan their legs. To simplify the task for the user, we tried many different scanning methods. There were options with video shooting and just a few photos from different angles. We settled on the latter. The scanning method was long processed and finalized. As a result, now it’s enough to make 7 frames - and in two minutes the 3D model of the leg is built.
We even shot a detailed video tutorial explaining how to scan legs. Organized a technical support service that helps users do everything right. We are always in touch and see what the user is doing. And in general, we continue to study user experience, identify and solve problems.
- How do you monetize your business?
- We have developed several offers for partners. Individual conditions are discussed with each partner: with someone, a payment is provided for each fitting, with someone for the number of scanned legs or the installation of FITTSCANNER in retail outlets - this depends on the size of the business and the degree of integration of our solutions. Also, subject to long-term cooperation, we offer partners a franchise agreement providing for a paid subscription to our service.
|Please rate the article|