Nike invented a form of tech to find shoppers’ perfect shoe size

Nike invented a form of tech to find shoppers' perfect shoe size

In the industry of shoes, 60% of consumers are wearing the wrong size. Not only is there a discrepancy among different styles of shoes (high heels to leather boots), sizing can often differ from brand to brand within one type of shoe (like Adidas sneakers to Nike sneakers) and even silhouette to silhouette within a singular brand.

During the 92 years since its introduction, the birth of the internet, and some other society-altering technological advances, the first ever mean of measurement for shoe sizes, the Brannock Device has somehow remained uncontested.

Until this summer.

Apparently, Nike will introduce Nike Fit, a foot-scanning solution designed to find every person’s best fit. Conceptually, Nike Fit falls somewhere between “why would we reinvent the wheel” and “we don’t even need that wheel.”

Nike Fit introduces AI technology in the shoe sizing issue

Nike Fit uses a proprietary combination of computer vision, data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and recommendation algorithms to find your right fit. With sub two-millimeter accuracy through dozens of data points, measurements are fed into the machine learning model that accommodates every detail of every Nike silhouette down to the materials that were used, the lacing systems and other critical aspects of fit. This is then paired with AI capabilities to learn a wearer’s personal fit preference and how they relate to the population as a whole.

Users can either find their size with the augmented reality feature in the Nike app or, soon, visit participating stores to use the technology.

Augmented reality is a new type of experience for a lot of consumers and sets a lot of challenges for them,” says Josh Moore, Nike’s vice president of design and user experience. “We’ve been doing a lot of experiments and creating new features in our SNKRS app over the last few years where we really learned a lot about how to use augmented reality successfully. Specifically, we know we have to guide our users through the journey at their own pace so they can comprehend as they go.

“We’re talking about phones with cameras measuring your feet. It’s a new type of experience where you’re using your device, the device’s camera, the 3D space around you, and you’re using your body. There’s no common UX pattern for this.”

Moore continues.

The Nike Fit technology reduces time in the buying process

The in-store experience differs in a few ways. It wasn’t enough to simply have great technology, it also had to reduce friction within the in-store buying process. The idea is to reduce the amount of time associates spend going back and forth grabbing sizes from the stock room in order to ensure time spent with customers is higher quality and more efficient.

Whether using the app to find the right fit and make a purchase or going into the store, associates and customers can record which size is purchased, as well as other personal preferences around fit.

“Before a shoe arrives onto the market, it will already be trained into the solution. But since the solution encompasses both machine learning and AI, its accuracy out of the gate is astonishing and just gets even better,” says Michael Martin, vice president of Nike direct products, growth and innovation.

Extending the Nike shoe sizing technology to new industries

Despite being for footwear right now, the technology created for Nike Fit has the potential to change retail in a lot of ways. One can imagine women being able to use the tech to find the right bra size. It could also make buying denim easier. As individualism and inclusivity have become marketing tools, custom fit seems like a natural next step, but until now, there hasn’t been a clear-cut solution.

Nike Fit will be introduced in select stores in the U.S. and within the Nike app in early July 2019, with Europe to follow later in the summer.

Nike has always had a place in the conversation alongside the likes of Apple when upper echelon branding and storytelling is discussed. With the introduction of Nike Fit, Nike just does it – again.