If the Shoe Fits

As we all learned from the Cinderella story, the shoe doesn’t always fit. Online retailer Zappos is trying to change that, however, with the launch of its revolutionary new program: The Single & Different Size Shoes Test.

Run by Zappos.com, Zappos Adaptive’s latest offering will allow customers of all abilities the opportunity to purchase a single shoe or shoes of different sizes. The first-of-its-kind digital test is aimed at amputees, those with differing foot sizes, and others who have been neglected by the footwear industry until now.

The company revealed that customers have been asking for new options for years. The requests grew louder with the 2017 launch of its Zappos Adaptive site, a curated shopping experience that offers functional and fashionable products to make getting dressed easier.

"The Single and Different Size Shoes Test Program is very close to our hearts – we wanted our community to know that we heard them, and continue to listen and innovate based on their needs and wants," said Dana Zumbo, Business Development Manager, Zappos Adaptive in a statement.

"Customer service is our number one goal, and we're endlessly committed to ensuring that everyone feels comfortable and confident in their own shoe or shoes."

Zappos already offers an assortment of shoes for people with disabilities or dexterity issues, including footwear with features like zippers around the front or back for easy access to put on or take off the shoes.

"But we've been getting many requests over the years from people asking us if we can also sell them a single shoe or different sized pairs," explained Dana Zumbo, business development manager with Zappos Adaptive.

As of now, the Single & Different Size Shoes Test is a small-scale effort with about 80 styles and colours available in adult and kids’ sizes. The line includes sneakers and slip-ons from six well-known brands: Nike, BILLY Footwear, Converse, PLAE, Stride Rite, and New Balance.

The company said that it is buying shoes from the brands in pairs and had to make tweaks to its warehouse to split the pairs when they come in. Once an order is placed for single or mixed-sized shoes, it will be fulfilled from Zappos' existing inventory and specially packaged at its warehouse with single shoes costing less than a pair.

Customers choose a design from its line-up of single shoes, select the desired size and the foot the shoe is for (right or left), and add it to their cart. Depending on a shopper’s personal needs, they can choose to add a second shoe of another size to their cart and the total amount comes up to what it would normally cost to buy a pair of shoes.

For the launch of the new program, Zappos Adaptive partnered with comedian, author, and Para-athlete Josh Sundquist.

“People always ask if I get a 50% discount on shoes. The answer up until now has been no, although I do have a friend who’s an amputee on the opposite side that I trade with. I call him my solemate. We shared our first pair—which I happened to have ordered from Zappos—back in 2011,” said Sundquist in an Instagram post about the launch.

"I'm so excited about this program. As an amputee, I've never been able to buy a single shoe before, so this is a game-changing moment for amputees and people with disabilities."