Measuring your feet for shoe size is an archaic part of retail. Fit-Any wants to disrupt that process by using smart sensors and the Internet of Things to precisely measure your feet and get you shoes that fit the first time.
Palo Alto, California-based Fit-Any, which was incubated at Peter Relan’s YouWeb incubator, uses a 3D measuring bootie and user-generated content (UGC) platform. It could save retailers a lot of money, as many have had to adopt online retailer Zappos’ policy of letting shoppers try shoes on and send them back by mail if they don’t fit.
And it could take the frustration out of buying shoes for consumers. Right now, shoe retailing isn’t that fun for either side. Only 12 percent of shoes are sold online, in comparison with over 20 percent of other apparel and over 45 percent for electronics. Money-losing returns policies are the only solution.
“Retailers like Zappos recently have been shifting the cost back to the consumer: most of Zappos shoes that go on sale now are sold through Zappos’s discounted brand 6pm and there are no free returns,” said Katya Stesin, founder and CEO of Fit-Any, in a statement. “Women want perfect fitting shoes and we are bringing that value proposition through technology.”
Stesin started the company because she had difficulty finding shoes online that fit, and she only bought one brand/one size. She also thought that getting 10 shoe boxes from Zappos and sending 9 back was very inefficient. Now she wants to help other women to be able to buy shoes online that fit them.
Similar problems existed with buying women’s bras, which led to the funding of Third Love by NEA and of True&Co by First Round, SoftBank, and Crosslink Capital. The women’s shoe industry is more than 10 times bigger than the lingerie industry in U.S.
The major issue is that everyone’s feet are different. Shoe-size estimates differ not only from country to country, but also from one brand to another. Fit-Any tries to solve this problem with technology that matches women’s feet with shoes and predicts which brands/shoes will provide the best fit.
The company has made an Internet of Things (IoT) device, based on the latest sensor technology, which Fit-Any calls the Fitting Bootie. It measures the foot accurately and instantaneously and matches foot parameters with shoes through the Fit-Any mobile app (available through Apple Store).
The Fitting Bootie could change how feet are measured. Today most retailers still use the Brannock device ruler, developed more than 100 years ago. Some retailers have tried to install 3D scanners, which proved to be expensive and difficult to operate. In contrast, Fit-Any’s Fitting Bootie is easy to use — all the person needs to do to put their foot in the bootie.
Fit-Any’s data science algorithm takes many factors into account, including UGC size and a specific brand’s fit, making a prediction with a high degree of certainty that a particular size of a given brand or model of shoe will fit.
“We really are a software company. We use crowdsourced shoe parties so we don’t have to mass produce the bootie for hundreds of millions of women. We only send the bootie to the party hosts,” said Stesin.
Fit-Any has successfully run shoe-commerce parties in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 6 months, attracting a lot of attention from retailers, brands, and fashion bloggers. Most recently, Fit-Any was invited to host two shoe parties at Macy’s My Stylist office during the annual June shoe sale event at Macy’s flagship store on Union Square in San Francisco.
Stesin is a serial entrepreneur. She built both software and hardware companies in the past, and before starting Fit-Any, she worked with major retailers such as Ecco on B2B online fitting tech. The company has raised $300,000, and it has six employees.
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