Roadrunner 1-Apple 0

by francine Hardaway on May 12, 2015

Apple is the quintessential example of superb luxury brand merchandising, right? But I have just been sold $259 worth of athletic shoes (one pair) by Roadrunner Sports. Not your idea of a luxury brand. Better try-on experience than the Apple Watch, and the store actually had what I wanted to buy.

In all my years of running and now walking, this is the first time I’ve seen good technology applied to shoe fitting. It was an amazing combination of procedures that took about ten minutes and fitted me with a pair of those that have made a real difference.

I walked into the store and saw the wall of shoes at the rear, so I made my way toward it. I was doing my usual version of shopping, listening to a podcast (this was Iyaz Aktar, Sarah Lane and Tom Merritt on “The 404” and not aware of the sales help.

But I was intercepted by a woman whose first question was “have you been here before”? I had to say no. She then signed me up for the shoe fitting by simply asking my name. I was caught.

When I saw the computer monitors, I decided to turn off Iyaz and Sarah for a while and concentrate. This might be “something.”

Moments later a well-trained young man made me take off my socks and shoes. First he used the old-fashioned size fitter to determine what size I am. Even this level of service is rare in contemporary shoe sales. Then he stood me on the ‘Paw Dog,” which makes a heat map of your standing position and tells how your weight falls when you’re standing.

It all reads out on the monitor. Then he made me roll my pants above the ankle and put me on a treadmill to show how my ankles and feet moved while running. This, too, displayed on the computer in real time.

The next step was to heat up some normal insoles and then fit them to my feet. for this, I stood on the cushiony platform below, and he fit the warm insoles so they molded to my feet.

He then took me and my insoles to a salesperson, along with his recommendations for what kind of shoe I needed. No arch support (surprise) and no stablization (strong ankles). He also saved all my information in the network.

While waiting for the salesperson to bring out the boxes, he gave me a little $5.00 foot massager to try. I’ve got a few of those at home, but this one felt really great. And he supplied me with a new pair of dry-fit socks to use for the try-on.

I walked out wearing the perfect shoe, with the insoles ( added cost), 3 pairs of new socks (more added cost), and, of course, the little foot massager. At the register the salesperson told me all the information was saved so I could order my next pair online. She also gave me a $10 coupon. And she helped me take a product shot when I told her I was writing a blog post about this.

No wonder she was happy! This was the most I’ve ever spent on running shoes, and I knew all along I was being upsold and I really didn’t mind. In fact, I admired every step in the process. Let that be a lesson to retailers; it’s the service, stupid. It’s hardly ever the product.

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