The reason why (I assume) you haven't had success in measuring a shoe and comparing it to the measurements they provide, is that they supply approximations, NOT brand specific measurements. If Zappos for example gave you the supplied measurements for each brand, then you will find it is quite accurate. As they stated "Please also keep in mind the manufacturers use different lasts to construct their shoes, and sizing may vary accordingly."
I understand what you mean. My Nike shoes, for example, display the length in centimetres, and while it is a 2D representation, they do in fact fit me and are accurate to my actual foot length.
"There are definitely some brands that tend to run smaller or larger, but that's not consistent within their own shoes," Wilkinson said. "So some models, even in the same brands, you get a shoe manufacturer where there's a half size difference. And another shoe manufacturer where the fit is a shoe size smaller." http://www.cnet.com/news/shoefitr-uses-3d-to-help-buy-the-right-kicks/
So you would need to come up with technology that would scan the three dimensional size of every single show you wanted to provide the service for, and have that in a database, and then if a customer has previously had one of those shoes you've scanned you can match them up with a suitable shoe.
So not impossible, but sounds like it will take a lot of $$$ and time. And then you'd be playing catch up with these guys.
Really very simple: How many brands of shoes are there, and how many ranges within each brand? How many shoes are on the Zappo website? And would the same technology used for measuring the inside of a running shoe be suitable for measuring the inside of a woman's strapped shoe, or would you need to develop different machines for different shoe types?
And once you've measured your 40,000-100,000 different brands & ranges, how many of those are no longer manufactured each year, and how many new season releases do you need to start on again?
Hence it's much cheaper for the shoe suppliers who are large enough to ever consider paying for something like this to simply work out the cheapest deal with postal services, and built in return postage costs into the shoe costs.
Look, it's great you're trying to come up with new ideas that could solve people's problems, that's where all the great inventions come from, but I came up with the info above via a 5 minute Google, so I think you need to spend a little more time delving into the facts behind your ideas as a first step in the future.
I commend your entrepreneurial spirit, but I agree with Dave. There are people using high tech approaches to these problems. I think if you automated your initial idea, you could have something, sort of a 'cloud based personal fit profile'. I'd be looking at an exit that involved selling to a social platform, users can log into a retail site with facebook/twitter/etc and their profile will be shared with the retail site.
If you want to turn your ideas into reality, that's great, but you have to be able to take criticism, especially when it's constructive - it could be saving you from reinventing the wheel. The other thing to realise is it's all about execution, not the idea, and you most likely won't get the execution until you have settled on a problem that you are passionate about solving and have a team.
Get out and talk to people. It's great you are asking designers for input, and some people here probably do buy clothes online, but I'd focus on forums such as vogue.com.au (or similar depending on your country) and get focused feedback from people who would use it.
How are you going to monetise? What's the market size (no it's not everyone who buys clothes online)? Who's the competition? How will you differentiate from them? What's your unique value proposition?
I see you have a website, great start. Get rid of those retailer who don't use your system, you're telling me that you aren't popular. There's nothing wrong with a concierge product to validate your market and get initial users. Do you want to scale? IF not, stay with your current service. If so get those retailers on board, work out a way to integrate your idea into their sales user journey and how it will benefit them, what they will save on returns. How much do returns cost them? How much do returns cost customers? Can you put a figure on it?
You should be speaking with those who work in the industry, salespeople, wholesalers, manufacturers. 5 minutes with them asking about shoe sizes and it probably would have given you an inkling on the size of the task involved.
Do the same with clothing, but I think there the issue is again that to "guarantee" a perfect fit (which is what it's about, otherwise the old "I'll just buy two sizes and send one back" thing is simpler) you would need both the person's and the clothing item's EXACT measurements for:
- arm length
- do they measure from under the armpit to the waist?
- waist size
- outer leg
- inner leg
- maybe even thigh circumference (I have soccer player thighs, not some skinny man-boy type thighs, and many jeans and some shorts are too skinny)
Think about all the measurements a tailor takes when custom making something. And yet even after that there's almost always a little more to alter after a fitting.
So yes, you've spotted a problem which is the first stage for any great idea, but I'm just not sure there's an easy solution until we have some sort of 3D phone booth a person can step into to get their exact measurements.
Here's your "virtual perfect fit solution" for you, though we're probably a couple of decades at least from seeing it happen:
One day all clothing patterns are coded into a computer the same way that the 3D printers get information. Then on the consumer end, they can step into some sort of booth, or something that can scan their body's exact size all over. And then with this information their exact body dimensions are measured, and the perfect fit can be found, maybe even displayed on a "virtual them" on screen. Nah stuff that, it's the future: in 3D in the middle of their living room!
If you make multi-millions from that idea you owe me at least 1%.
Thanks for your feedback, this has really given me a lot to think about.
Personally, I don't think a concierge service is the way to go - in this day and age, people just love automation - so here is the best fitting size we recommend for this garment based on your measurements. How this eventuates, I don't know. But your answers definitely have given me lots to think about.