Summer 2019 – Inside Outdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | SUMMER 2019 34 This summer, Nike is rolling out its latest augmented reality (AR) initiative dubbed Nike Fit. Fully aware that fitting performance shoes is more complex than simple length and width, Nike de- veloped a scanning solution, powered through the shoemaker’s mobile app, that uses the customer’s smartphone camera to take a detailed scan of the person’s feet. Through a proprietary combination of computer vision, data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and recommendation al- gorithms, the solution collects 13 data points, mapping a foot morphology for both feet within a matter of seconds and recommends the ideal shoe fits and sizes for each individual in less than a minute, according to Nike. If nothing else, the technology could help Nike increase mobile sales, we well as sales directly through its mobile app. But it’s likely Nike Fit is intended to attack the most common pain point of online shop- ping, while at the same time poten- tially reducing the amount of costly re- turns. Indeed, the clothing and acces- sories category is the one consumers are most apprehensive about buying online, due to an onerous return pro- cess, according to a November 2018 survey from Radial. Sporting goods also appears on this same list. Meanwhile, per a February 2019 survey from inRiver, 37 percent of consumers say they purchase items with the intent to return, and this number jumps to 57 percent when looking at those ages 16 to 24. Addi- tionally, more than one in 10 consum- ers are most likely to return footwear and accessories following a digital purchase, according to a November 2018 report from Navar. “The ideal use case for AR is get- ting the right fit for apparel. Customers are happier, and retailers maintain their margins by minimizing returns,” eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman said. “Nike is smart to try to get out in front of this trend by starting with shoes, where outfitting feet is a much less complex equation than out- fitting body type.” Lower returns certainly are good news across the board, and Nike does have plans to implement the technol- ogy within physical stores. The plan is to arm retail associates with the app and provide retailers with a specially developed Nike Fit mat that allows store athletes to help recommend the best fit for whatever Nike shoe the cus- tomer is shopping. Even so, assuming shoppers are willing to adopt AR tools, Nike Fit is a move toward retail independence for the brand and a move away from reli- ance on wholesale partners. Tech Savvy The Good and Bad of Nike AR Which Product Categories Are US Digital Buyers Apprehensive About Buying Because of the Returns Process? % of respondents Source: Radial Clothing & accessories Jewelry & luxury items Groceries & household items Electronics Health & beauty items Sporting goods or outdoor equipment 41.4% 30.7% 26.0% 23.5% 17.9% 14.8%