Interactive Customization Goes Brick and Mortar

Stroll into Foot Locker’s store in New York’s Times Square and you can’t miss the bright red kiosk. Built around large interactive video screens, the kiosk invites shoppers to customize and then buy an iconic running shoe, the New Balance 574, before their personalized design is manufactured.

Via the touch screens, a potential buyer can choose from myriad color choices for various shoe components, different materials, and add text such as a name. A design can be zoomed in for an up-close inspection and turned 360 degrees before ordering. The kiosk includes physical samples of the shoes’ various parts, from thread and laces to leather and mesh swatches.

New Balance also recently unveiled a similar kiosk at its NYC Experience Store, 27 blocks away in the Flatiron District, where shoppers get the added bonus of watching employees assemble limited release 534s only available there.

Both kiosks are a laudable marriage of the in-store experience and technology. They also put front and center in high-traffic retail outlets public demonstrations of mass customization: consumers designing products to match their aesthetic tastes and brands avoiding excess inventory by making items only after they’re bought. New Balance has been a leader in the field.

The kiosks’ touch screens actually deliver a richer visual experience than found in New Balance’s robust online store. It too features many customization options but lacks 3D product views from any angle and the immersive visualization experience that Embodee delivers online for brands.

That virtual experience, as we announced last month, now includes footwear.