Most Americans are very comfortable making purchases online. It’s quick, easy, and a good way to avoid long lines at the mall. Online-only retail stores like Amazon.com thrive even despite not having a physical brick and mortar store. So in this age of online shopping, we at SHOES-n-FEET often get asked why we don’t offer online shopping to our customers.
Our philosophy here are SHOES-n-FEET is to be more than a shoe store. Our unique combination of retail, education and service has "closed the loop" between the medical community, their patients, and retail shoe stores. Doctors and therapists trust that we will meet the physical needs of their patients and can help alleviate their foot pain. Also, we have a superbly trained staff—recognized experts in fitting shoes. They receive over 100 hours of training and are required to pass a comprehensive certification exam.
When customers come in complaining of foot pain, we talk about their symptoms and daily activities, perform gait analysis and even use computerized foot screening. We can even modify and adjust shoes to fit the customers' needs. That level of customer service just can't be replicated online.
The American Association of Podiatry and Sports Medicine makes a similar point when explaining why they don’t offer shoe recommendations on their site:
Athletic shoe fitting is a process that must be done one-one-one with an experienced shoe fitter. Making shoe recommendations over the internet or recommending one shoe over another for the masses is an exercise in futility. Footwear’s effects on comfort and performance cannot be reliably predicted for an individual using current methods of testing. The ultimate test of any shoe is the individual experience that the user has with it. Because gait patterns, biomechanics and foot shapes are so unique, individuals have to understand that they are their own expert on footwear. … the bottom line is that the shoes must be worn and experienced in order to understand how they work for any given person.
It is extremely difficult to accurately recommend footwear without assessing first hand, an individual’s gait pattern, range of motion, biomechanical profile and foot type. Other factors such as injury history, body mass index, weekly miles or hours of training, training goals, training philosophy, and training surface are all important in selecting the right shoe. These things cannot be done via the internet. While unreliable forms of self-assessment have been used elsewhere, we avoid advocating these means.