BFA hopes shoe algorithm will be perfect fit for members
The British Footwear Association is stepping in to help its online shoe retail members manage an oversupply of stock by offering an algorithm that claims to improve the customer experience.
While the ‘Back to School’ season used to be a shoo-in for the footwear industry, a perfect storm of post-pandemic overordering followed by unprecedented falls in online demand as the cost-of-living crisis bites has meant footwear sales have taken a kicking, leaving retailers with large inventories.
To increase online footfall for its shoe brand members, the BFA has joined forces with AI-driven software vendor ShoeAI which offers a ‘guided selling’ algorithm that claims to ensure customers find the perfect fit for shoes in stock – one of the biggest challenges for online shoe retailers, according to Polly Lythall, the BFA’s business development manager.
Drawing on machine learning capabilities, ShoeAI’s software claims to improve the customer experience making shoppers three times more likely to buy shoes online.
Customers are queried about shoes they already own, their size and shoe preferences, leading them through a six-step process that replicates the in-store experience that concludes with recommendations on shoes that are in stock in the right size.
The tech also claims to offer valuable insights into customer behaviour and claims to boost conversions by as much as 300%.
With the average e-commerce conversion at 2% – a tenth of the average in-store conversion rate – the BFA hopes that an online sales assistant like Shoe AI can help its members step it up a level.
“Because customers are much more likely to buy a pair of shoes in a shop with a human assistant, this process is as close to a real-life experience as possible – it’s a great solution and our new partnership with ShoeAI ensures our members will benefit,” says Lythall.
Following the BFA’s partnership, ShoeAI has been inducted into the association’s community of approved partners, enabling the vendor to provide solutions to its members, who span ecommerce businesses, bricks-and-mortar retailers, suppliers, wholesalers and emerging brands.
Timo Steitz, ShoeAI’s founder and CEO of the Switzerland-based firm, said: “Now we’re a partner, all the BFA member companies can choose ShoeAI confident that, following our BFA audit and due diligence, our guided selling software is a reliable tool to drive their sales growth.”
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