With purchasing online becoming more and more common retailers are having to adapt the way they do business in order to maintain their share of the market. This is particularly true of fashion retailers who must overcome the issue of consumers not being able to try on the styles on offer before they buy. Few people would now be concerned about investing in a new saucepan or any electrical goods without handling them first but clothes can be a different matter altogether.
Try Before You Buy
With clothing, both size and shape are crucial and it is always difficult to know how well an item will suit without trying it on. Leading online retailers are adapting to this problem by employing a variety of new software applications which help their customers make a more informed decision. Some sites enable you to compare the garments to others you own and it is now even possible to create your own avatar to try on clothes for you. Various forms of virtual changing rooms have been developed which all help but there doesn’t seem to be much currently available to help us buy shoes which is ironic because of all the things we wear, shoes are probably the things we most need to try before we buy.
I admit that I have a particular problem with shoes as I have awkward, painful feet which considerably restrict my choices of footwear. I rarely purchase shoes online because most styles prove to be uncomfortable and so I really need to try the styles first. This has got me thinking about how things might change in the future because if footwear sales are to prosper online then something is going to have to give as shoes are not a simple issue for most people.
The Way Forward
Some form of virtual changing room would help a little with footwear but I don’t think that this will be the ultimate solution. Shoes are close fitting items and feet vary dramatically and so even footwear which is technically the right size could prove to be unsuitable. The real revolutions in footwear will almost certainly prove to be 3D printing and customisation. In both cases customer’s feet could be accurately measured and problem areas accounted for before bespoke shoes are produced which should then fit perfectly and offer the ultimate level of comfort.
As time passes more and more materials are being used in 3D printing processes and it is already possible to get your hands on printed athletic shoes. There is no reason why other styles could not be produced in the future as the technology is improved. Customisation is also a growing trend and whilst bespoke items are more costly, shoes produced in this way would be such a boon that I am sure these services will be successful. If much of the process is conducted online then some costs can be saved making the shoes affordable for most people. I am certainly a potential client!
In the future buying shoes could get a lot easier and we may not even have to leave home to get our hands on just the right pair with ease. With 3D printing and customisation it won’t just be a case of standard fit or wide fit shoes but rather exact fit and that would be heaven!
Article by Sally Stacey