CSA Exclusive: Footwear chain finds 3D foot scans a perfect fit

Tradehome Shoes is leveraging an integrated footscanning solution to boost in-store sales and increase its understanding of customer needs.

Based in Minnesota, Tradehome is an employee-owned retailer of specialty footwear and foot accessories operating 111 stores between Idaho and Ohio. Mostly based in malls and shopping centers, Tradehome stores typically measure 2,500 to 3,000-sq.-ft., with half that space reserved for the stockroom. Chain Store Age recently spoke with Tradehome CEO Justin Kehrwald about how the company is enhancing its in-store customer service with 3D scanning technology from Aetrex.

“Our stores are full-service showrooms where associates measure and fit customers hands-on,” explained Kehrwald. “We had a challenge in providing the most customized fit possible – the Aetrex solution was looking for us.”

Kehrwald referred to the Aetrex Albert integrated foot scanning system. Tradehome had an established relationship with Aetrex as a provider of custom footwear and orthotics products. However, Aetrex is also the developer of its proprietary “Albert” 3D foot scanner technology. Albert uses computer vision, sensor, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning technologies to determine individual consumer data such as size, length, width, height, pressure, and arch type in under one minute.

“Aetrex knew our stores and were confident Albert was a good fit based on the way we present our selection to customers,” said Kehrwald. “We were given the opportunity to try it at five locations virtually risk-free.”

In May 2019, Tradehome piloted Albert in its test stores for a three-week trial period. The retailer was pleased with the results.

“We knew we had a home run after the first couple of weeks of having foot scanners in stores,” said Kehrwald. “It took off like gangbusters from the first day.”

Tradehome has deployed the Albert solution in 37 of 111 stores. Although widespread rollout of the initial release of Albert has been prohibitive due to the solution’s size, the much smaller footprint of the newer Albert 2 release will enable it to be deployed in additional stores.  

According to Kehrwald, Aetrex provides information on sales conversions of products featuring its custom insoles resulting from Albert scans. Conversion rates have averaged 80%, and in some cases exceeded 100% as a result of customers purchasing more than one Aetrex item following a single scan.

In addition, Tradehome is now able to collect valuable consumer data which the retailer applies to improve its merchandising and promotional efforts.

“When we scan a customer’s feet, we get to keep the data,” said Kehrwald. “This includes information on trends in footwear size and curve in different areas, so we can keep the right inventory in stock. The average customer in Idaho has different foot dimensions than the average customer in Tennessee. Each store has its inventory dialed in for proper sizing of the local customer base.”

Tradehome launched online sales in mid-March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began forcing stores to temporarily close. Data from the Albert solution aided the retailer in understanding individual customer buying habits for targeted online promotions.

“We know that if a customer likes product X, they also may like products Y and Z,” said Kehrwald. “Albert has aided us in suggestive online selling and offering additional items for online purchase.”

Looking ahead, Tradehome plans to link Albert to its POS and e-commerce systems to bolster online sales through its brick-and-mortar locations. Kehrwald concluded by describing how in the physical store, the solution is a source of “retail theater” that helps put shoppers at ease.

“It adds a component to the entertainment and educational factor of sizing for footwear,” he said. “In the current environment, we are tasked as a retailer with providing people a short-time escape from their real lives. Albert provides a comfortable scan.”

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