30 Jun Executive Retail Insights
An Interview with Yuval Chomski, Founder of Invertex
Can you explain what you mean by “Shopping Experience 4.0”?
If you consider the way people buy footwear today, there’s the traditional brick-and-mortar shoe store experience, which has pretty much remained unchanged for many of years, and then there’s the online shopping route.
For consumers, the two scenarios differ starkly in terms of experience. The first is about the smell of leather and polyurethane, about taking your time and finding the perfect fit, about a salesperson balancing seven or eight shoeboxes in his arms as he emerges from the backroom. The internet experience, on the other hand, is about endless variety, uncertainty, and the convenience of clicking from your sofa.
Invertex’s “Shopping Experience 4.0” unifies these alternate universes of consumer experience, enabling users to seamlessly cross between online and in-store shopping. Invertex envisions a shopping experience where technology allows shoppers to enjoy the best of both worlds. The footwear brands we have partnered with make the Invertex’s shopping experience a fundamental element of their brand and positioning, creating a new and drastically strengthened connection with their customers by the converging of the online and offline shopping experiences.
Can you give some examples?
Sure – think of the most basic advantages of a physical store, where a shopper can try on shoes for both fit and style. Our system allows online shoppers to virtually experience very similar advantages when they receive instant, personally tailored size and fit recommendations, as well as hyper-realistic visualizations of how the shoes would look with a pair of jeans or a skirt.
In an online store, on the other hand, you can easily sort and search through an enormous collection, and availability is almost never an issue. A salesperson in a local store – equipped with our point of sale tablet – can give the store visitors the same access to variety and can help t shoppers complete the purchase even if an item is not in stock.
Can you really change the experience in a physical store?
Absolutely. Think of the shopping experience in an Apple Store. From the moment you enter, you are continuously guided by a sales rep who has all the information at their fingertips. No need to go out back to check inventory, no need for a separate cashier to swipe your card. We aim to bring that consumer-tailored, consumer-focused experience to footwear shopping.
Let’s talk about online sales figures. Why do you think online purchase of shoes are still in single digits?
At the end of the day we believe it’s a matter of shopper’s confidence. We have seen how taking steps to increase the confidence level of online shoppers in their purchases translates to higher conversion rates. If you can provide shoppers a guided shopping experience – where they are personally assisted in choosing styles and what is the truly right size for them, they will naturally buy more online and likely encourage their friends to do so as well. Speaking of friends, we enable instant social sharing, where you can ask your closest friends or a stylist for their opinion – and get an instant vote. It’s like having them with you in the store.
How do you technologically fit a shoe to a foot?
We combine advanced anatomical 3D modeling with machine learning and big data. We use in-store, tablets with depth sensing cameras in order to capture every detail of a consumer’s foot, and using our proprietary software generate a digital 3D model of it. We then compare the internal shape of shoes from a store’s collection to the specifics of a given customer’s foot. Our technology even enables online shoppers to get a 3D model of their foot using just a standard smartphone camera, which is able to collect enough visual data for our cognitive system to build an accurate 3D model.
What exactly is 3D technology? How does it help our industry?
3D technology is a broad term, spanning from 3D design tools to 3D capture technology, to 3D rendering and visualization, and reaches digital manufacturing which includes 3D printing.
Invertex uses 3D technology in our shopping experience system, capturing a shopper’s feet either with a 3D scanner or a standard phone camera. We also use 3D visualization technologies to bring products to life and enable virtual fitting rooms and a digital mirrors. Lastly, we use 3D technology to allow true personalization and customization of products, beyond standard inventory.
Can you elaborate on custom shoes?
We believe digital manufacturing technology will gradually enter the mainstream apparel and footwear industries – from laser cutting systems, to textiles printing to 3D printing. It is increasingly clear that today’s consumers want products that were personally made for them, both in style and fit. In order for this sort of mass customization to truly take root, however, we need to streamline the process of capturing a person’s exact foot size and shape, and automatically translate that to a corresponding shoe design. We likewise need the ability to automatically generate digital production files that are sent to the production line. This revolution can be accomplished incrementally, first with just specific parts of the shoe, like 3D printing a custom mid-sole, and integrating that custom element with today’s standard manufacturing practices. Invertex’s technology brings that personally tailored future dramatically closer.
Does this technology really work?
Yes! Beyond footwear we have also demonstrated the technology in the eyewear vertical, using a quick 3D capture of a customer’s face to 3D printing of custom frames that perfectly fit. People absolutely love these glasses, which were designed by them and made especially for them.
We have started to work on full-body 3D captures, which generate a full-body model or “avatar.” The Invertex avatar will once and for all allow consumers to confidently shop online for clothes and reduce the frustration of poor fits. We are confident our technology is going to change the way we think about shopping for clothes.