Given that the sales of fashionable footwear is climbing by the billion every year and that men are spending nearly as much money on shoes as women are, shoe retailers ought to think about how they can further capitalize on this demand. Notably, one of the biggest trends in the market for footwear today is shoe customization.
Surprisingly, 25% of online shoe purchases are customized in one way or another; which translates to a $2 billion market for customized kicks. For shoe retailers, this is big news. Because not only does direct-to-consumer sales rendered from online shoe customization eliminate the intermediary, it also means that consumers will be more likely to return to their site for their subsequent purchases.
However, with all good things comes its price. As customers are bombarded with new product launches on a regular basis and thus innumerable ways they can customize their kicks, the process of shoe customization becomes perplexing as many customers find it extremely difficult to pinpoint and create their ideal product. Unbounded possibilities in design can put unwanted stress on consumers, wearing down the purchase process. This frustrating process poses as a serious problem for the company as a company should always aim for their customer website experience to be as seamless as possible. In a study done by Kissmetrics, it was shown that the number one juncture where customers abandon a site is at the check-out point, even after they have loaded their online shopping carts. In fact, customers are so visually sensitive that even a change in font from the shopping to check out page can lead to website abandonment. What, then, could a taxing process in shoe customization set off? It could most certainly also put customers off from the website.
Fortunately, artificial intelligence offers us a way around this designing process. As the ideal shoe design that customers crave for are often a product of inspiration derived from Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, etc., artificial intelligence can give customers a strong starting point that is based on individual deep learning. As customers’ individual penchants are often homogenous, colours and/or patterns that they predominantly purchase in the past will, more often than not, be integrated into their shoe purchase. Even more than that, artificial intelligence can present intriguing shoe designs that the customer may not have thought of before – making the customer experience more seamless and interesting.
Yet another way AI can contribute to expediting the design process is by providing a much more genuine and unique online shopping experience, two indispensable factors to a good shopping experience. With AI, customers are assisted with the first stage of the shoe customization process as AI can aid in selecting a base style for the customer based on past purchases and intent data. The result? Rather than the customer arduously scanning through a massive catalog of shoe styles to choose from, a pre-populated short list of shoes that is best suited to the consumer’s preferences is presented, based on past purchases and intent data.
The bottom line is that retail brands must fathom that making the customer experience as simple and seamless as possible will help increase customer retention rates and customer loyalty. In order to do this, companies should make the most out of technologies that will make their products more attuned to their customers. After all, a customer centric approach to a business will always trump any other.