“We are a technology company at heart,” said Larry Schwartz, CEO at Aetrex, Inc., a footwear and orthotics firm that leads with the adage, “one click for a better fit.”
At the FN CEO Summit held on August 3 and The Plaza Hotel in New York, Schwartz discussed “Why 3D Scanning and AI is Important for the Modern Footwear Business” and spotlighted Aetrex’s role in the space.
Viewing itself as the “geek squad” of the footwear industry, Schwartz said that everything the company does feeds off its technology. Aetrex aims to solve the pressing problem of online footwear returns through its foot scanning technology line – the Albert Pressure, Albert 3D Fit, and Albert 2 Pro, as well as its FitGenius AI Engine plugin for retailers – that 3D scans a foot through AI to help consumers find the right fit, which in turn reduces the need to return footwear.
Schwartz explained that since feet are 3-dimensional objects, length cannot be the sole metric used to determine shoe size. The continued use of intelligent technology for shoe fit leads to a shockingly high return rate of 30 to 40 percent – and Aetrex’s fit solutions help shoppers glean this information before purchase.
And Aetrex’s new 3D data-driven footwear development project is going live in just a few weeks, which Schwartz describes as “the world’s first portal for footwear developers to get tons of data to sell better shoes.” Hosted on Foot.com, its portal is flush with features that dramatically streamline the footwear design process.
For example, the “Build a Last” option allows users to click on a country or any geographical region in the world in 3D and retrieve the average foot size for men’s or women’s shoes, which helps develop better lasts. Schwartz added that all its data could easily be exported.
When asked why the industry is slow to adopt foot sizing technologies, Schwartz said, “Our industry needs more modern in-store sizing for shoes. The biggest challenge is that it’s a tough sell from the middle up,” he added, emphasizing that if top-level executives within a business don’t embrace the technology, “it’s a tough thing to sell.”
“The key is just to start scanning,” he said. “Get going, capture the data – and sell more shoes.”