But can they get it right this time?

On 24 June Yusaku Mawzawa, founder of the hugely successful Japanese online clothing retail website Zozotwon, took to Twitter to announce a new service called the Zozomat.

“Introducing the Zozomat. Feet can be measured in 3D with a smartphone. Pre-orders start today and of course it’s free. Make your reservation on the website.”

That was a little cut and dry for the billionaire known for grandiose stunts like buying a ticket to the moon and giving away free money over Twitter. Sure enough, he followed up a minute later with a more dramatic explanation.

“The domestic market for shoes is 1.4 trillion yen (US$12.9 billion), and the annual consumption of shoes per year is said to be five shoes per person. For example, if everyone bought just one of their five pairs of shoes from Zozotown, that would put us in the neighborhood of 280 billion yen. We currently sell about 36 billion yen in Zozotown shoes. Zozomat will usher us into an age where anyone can buy shoes online!”

Zozomat is quite simple in its design. Users simply put their foot on the center of the mat and take photos of it at various angles with their smartphone. A dedicated app then uses the spots on the mat as reference points to map out a 3-D model of your foot, with highly accurate sizes in all dimensions. The app will then direct you to the sizes of shoes available at Zozotown that will best fit your unique shape of foot.

Comments from Zozotown customers and the uninitiated were both very intrigued.

“This is amazing, and especially good for kids whose feet grow so fast.”
“What an innovative company.”
“I’m glad because I love shoes.”
“Shoes are always more problematic to order than clothes, so this is good.”
“I wonder if they can detect high insteps or bunions.”
“And shipping is free!”
“Tailor-made shoes used to be a thing for high-paid businessmen but now anyone can do it.”
“Yes, but the Zozosuit seemed amazing when it was first announced too…”

As the last comment pointed out, this is eerily reminiscent of an announcement made by Maezawa back in late 2017 for a garment that could automatically measure one’s entire body called the Zozosuit.

Originally billed as something like Tony Stark’s underwear that could size you with a push of a button, the Zozosuit was plagued by delays and then altered to look like Dumbledore’s PJs that could size you after you hobble around in a circle for three minutes.

Despite having enormous potential it ended up an over-hyped flop and one that cost Zozotown on the bottom line by the end of fiscal 2018.

“One miscalculation was the Zozosuit. It got a lot of buzz and many people ordered it, but because of difficulty to put on and measure, it was used by fewer people than expected. Going forward, by making Zozosuit easier to use and developing a better body shape prediction system we will continue to provide clothes that are perfect for everyone.”

The Zozomat appears to have learnt from the mistakes of the Zozosuit. The design is much more practical and cost-effective to start with, and a reasonable delivery schedule of this winter should keep expectations much more grounded in reality. This time the delivery fee is waived too, which is a wise move since we all know Zozotown stands to profit quite a bit from the directed sales as well as valuable big data regarding size stats.

It’a good to see a company and its leader learn from their mistakes and use it as an opportunity for growth. If all goes according to plan, maybe Maezawa can continue buying ridiculously expensive musical instruments for some time to come.

Source: Zozotown, CNET Japan, My Game News Flash, Hachima Kiko
Top image: YouTube/ZOZO JP OFFICIAL
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