This entrepreneur’s vision: A future where every body fits — free from sizes
Swedish innovation aiming to help everyone find the right size — and get a better shopping experience — takes over the world.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
November 21, 2023
When Alper Aydemir (pictured) grew up in Istanbul, he wanted to learn everything around AI and smart computers. He worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Google Tango. Later, when he moved to Sweden, he co-founded Volumental while he was a Ph.D. student at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
— I’ve always been obsessed with robotics and how we can solve everyday problems with technology, he says.
And how do you do that with your venture?
— Finding fit is a painful part of the shopping journey, leading to waste both commercially and valuable resources-wise. Our vision of the future is one where every body fits; a future free from sizes.
— We have three main products: in-store foot scanners, omnichannel solutions, and a mobile scanning widget. Each solution allows retailers and brands to match shoppers to perfect fitting shoes.
— The in-store scanner takes hundreds of pictures of your feet in 5 seconds and creates a 3D model. That model is matched against the purchase behaviour of other shoppers with similar foot shapes and gives shoe size and model recommendations. So far we have scanned 45 million feet.
— The omnichannel solution includes a digital toolkit which lets retailers use their scan data to create personalised customer experiences. Omnichannel bridges the gap between in-store and online footwear retail.
— Our mobile solution lets shoppers scan their feet using just their phone. That way we’re improving the online shoe shopping experience, which is notoriously difficult when it comes to finding the right fit. Shoppers can already test our widget with our partner, Swedish shoe brand Flattered.
Volumental has more than 100 clients, primarily shoe brands and footwear retailers, ranging from New Balance, Fleet Feet, Red Wing Shoes, The Athlete’s Foot, Stride Rite, and Canada Goose.
— Our clients are primarily shoe brands and footwear retailers. On average, our scanners increase sales by 20% and decrease returns by 18%.
How do you help them?
— Except for increasing sales and decreasing returns, we help retailers create engaging customer experiences that make shoe shopping fun and dynamic rather than frustrating and unsustainable. For brands, our extensive data sets help them to design shoes that better reflect the actual shape and sizes of people’s feet, Aydemir shares. He continues:
— With lululemon, for example, we shared more than 1 million foot scans to help them create a running shoe designed specifically for women’s feet. Most women’s running shoes on the market are just based on men’s designs, with smaller sizes, but women’s feet are structurally different to men’s.
— When it comes to the end-customers, nobody likes struggling to find the right shoe size. Not only do we make the shoe shopping experience easy and fun — we also help people to understand their feet better.
What’s your view on the future of retail?
— Retail needs to move towards a more sustainable, more personalised approach to keep customers coming back. Digitalisation is important, but technology should be a complement to in-person interactions, not replace them completely.
And for you, what’s next?
— We’ve just announced our expansion into North America, says Aldemir. We’ve appointed Brent Hollowell, a 30-year footwear industry veteran, as General Manager for our upcoming US office. Earlier this year we also opened an office in China to serve the APAC market.
— There is a lot more that we can do with our 3D scanning and AI technology. We started with footwear because that’s such a major issue right now.