Nike knows what the consumer wants—according to its latest digital addition—a shoe that fits just right. The brand says it has developed technology, coming this July, that will allow its app to achieve near-perfect size accuracy. If the technology proves successful, it would be a huge step forward for Nike and raise the stakes for the activewear industry overall.
Is pinning down the perfect-sized shoe really that important? Like Prince Charming potentially picking the wrong Cinderella, ill-fitting footwear not only has an effect on the wearer, but on the brand. According to Nike, three out of five people are actually wearing the wrong shoe size, resulting in high costs of returning merchandise to retailers.
So how does the company’s new component work to solve this problem? The new technology will use a mix of photographs, AI, AR, and machine learning software to capture an image of the floor next to a wall, generate a virtual “stand here” dot so users can snap an image of their feet while standing against the wall, all to create thirteen data points to determine the length and width of each foot and result in a shoe size recommendation.
It’s not the first time Nike has gone the extra mile. Currently, a third of brands in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear maintain an iOS mobile app. At the end of 2018, Nike became the first studied brand to integrate commerce capabilities into its activity tracking apps. It’s also one of just six brands to have integrated its loyalty program with its mobile app in an effort to extend and personalize the experience. Indeed, customization and personalization appear to be at the core of efforts by the trio of Genius brands leading the index—Nike, Adidas, and The North Face. In fact, the entire NikePlus experience is designed around unlocking benefits including personalized coaching, early access to the latest product releases, free music and guided meditation. Additionally, the brand curates select products based on sports interest, which are then featured in a Shop tab in the Nike Run Club and Nike Training Club mobile apps. By further personalizing product recommendations to incorporate the perfect fit, Nike can advance its app to another level so far unheard of to to other brands.
Activewear brands are advancing at the speed of light as compared to traditional fashion, so if you’re not growing in this industry, you’re losing. Last year, Nike was number two in Gartner L2’s ranking. This year, it stepped it up to number one. Time will tell if Nike’s new technology pulls through and changes the shoe game for good, but one thing is for sure: this brand means business.