Improperly fitting shoes have global costs mounting into the billions of dollars. In response, a rapidly growing custom orthotic insert market is trying to meet its needs. Already worth over $4 billion, it is projected to double in the next 10 years. However, excessive costs of inserts, commonly requiring consumers to cough up over $200, makes them both inaccessible and off-putting to many. At the same time, the additive manufacturing, computer vision, and data processing revolutions are converging to create the ideal conditions for a step change in how the market functions.
Instead of buying insoles from inconvenient websites charging hundreds of dollars, scans for insoles can be created on a phone, and the insoles can be created quickly and cheaply with additive manufacturing. On-demand insole production opens an entirely new value creation: pairing insoles sales with shoe sales. When buying shoes at a store, there can now be an option to add insoles to customize the fit at point of sale, increasing convenience for consumers, with a potential for a vast growth in the market. Notably, many shoe stores already partner with foot scanning companies to install foot scanning machines in their stores, but they lack the capability to effectively use the data. With better data processing, the same foot scanning technology can be used in stores to recommend the best fitting shoes for customers, which will make them more likely to find shoes they want to buy at a store, increasing sales.