Amazon purchased this week Shoefitr, a Pittsburgh-based startup that has developed 3D technology to match online shoppers with shoes that fit them better. The acquisition could be integrated into Zappos, Amazon’s shoe-focused apparel site.

Buying clothing – especially shoes – online is still a difficult experience due to the guesswork around fit. It’s inconvenient for customers and retailers both, and some customers are said to return 50% of what they buy on Zappos. Yet, retailer investment in guided selling tools remains low compared to other site content. Just 14% of U.S. brands in L2’s Intelligence Report: Content & Commerce report have integrated guided selling tools on their product pages.

content-and-commerce-2014-content-types-integrated-onto-product-pagesMuch of the activity around guided selling tools is concentrated in the Beauty category, where 79% of brands have created at least one such tool. However tactical missteps (such as not promoting the tool on product pages) have led to their inefficacy.

Shoefitr has worked with REI and Nordstrom, and claims to reduce return rates by up to 20%. If so, partnerships with such services could be wise investments for clothing brands given the high cost of shipping items and returns.

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