Buying apparel and shoes online can be a bit of a gamble, especially if you're unfamiliar with the brand. After all, it's a well-known fact that several labels have their own sizing conventions. And while it has been suggested that shoppers should just avoid buying these items online, Americans have started to embrace buying shoes and apparel through various e-commerce sites. American shoppers now buy more than 10% of their clothes and footwear from such sites, according to a recent Moody's report.
One tool that may play a part in increased online footwear sales is Shoefitr. This app — which promises to inspire customer confidence and limit buyer's remorse — allows consumers to compare the measurements of their most comfortable current pair of shoes to the ones they want to buy. "[S]ay you're into Nike Free Runs but they discontinued the model you like," TechCrunch proposes. "You tell Shoefitr and, using the site's 3D scanning system and shoe database, it finds a pair that matches the size and shape of the shoe you like."
Shoefitr provides both a 2D and 3D model of the shoe to demonstrate how well it will fit the customer's foot based on the information and preferences provided. Currently, 20 online shoe stores around the world use Shoefitr, including Running Warehouse, TOMS, New Balance, and Holabird Sports. Obviously there's currently an emphasis on athletics, but should the tool succeed, we could easily see more fashion-forward sites using Shoefitr as well.
Other Tools to Take the Guesswork Out of Buying OnlineWhile Shoefitr may be revolutionizing online footwear shopping, several apparel sites have implemented their own tools for guiding the consumer through the tricky world of buying apparel online. Hugo Boss and H&M employ virtual dressing rooms that allow shoppers to put an ensemble together on a generic model, which is helpful in determining whether or not select pieces mesh well.
Meanwhile, Swivel (pictured) — which teamed up with Bloomingdale's during New York Fashion Week — is a real-time virtual dressing room that allows shoppers to try outfits on their own body, in rapid succession. Swivel is not yet available for public consumption, but hopes to be accessible for both home and in-store use.
Readers, are you hesitant to buy clothes and shoes online? If so, do you believe tools like the ones we've noted above will help quell that hesitation, or can no app ever replace the in-store fitting room experience? In other words, if the shoe (virtually) fits, will you buy it?