Friday, May 15th, 2009
My initial goal was to research and write a blog on sneakers, the sneaker culture, and what drives a ‘sneakerhead’ to seek the most limited/hard to get/wait-in-line-for-2 days type sneakers. But as I set out on my task to contribute to the Fluid blog, I stumbled onto the site miadidas.com. I say ‘stumbled’ because I have not heard or seen much about this site. I knew about NikeID, YourReebok(formerly known as RBKCustom), and the newly updated Vans Custom site among others, but was surprised and somewhat disappointed about just discovering the custom site for Adidas shoes. I’ve seen the in-store experience at the Adidas store in San Francisco, but was not aware it was migrated to the web – or at least a version of it.
With that said, I decided to focus my attention to the site and give my personal review.
“In 2008, adidas Originals successfully introduced its in-store customization tool, mi Originals. Now, mi Originals is taking steps to broaden its product offering for the streetwear community with the US launch of miadidas.com.”
The site launched in February 2009 with the Superstar, ZX 700, Stan Smith, and Gazelle. Since then it has added the Stan Smith CF and Forum Lo to the Originals line along with a ‘Sport’ line which offers 13 different types of models catering to Basketball, Soccer, Running or Tennis. Prices range from $95(Gazelle) to $240(Predator Power Serve – soccer shoe), which is about 20% or so above the retail price of its inline version.
The home page displays three models for each line – Originals and Sports – located at the bottom of the page. Clicking on any of the shoes brings up a nice hero shot and some quick blurb of its history (Originals) or quote by an ‘athlete’ (Sports). There is navigation at the top which filters the products either by Gender (Men / Women) or Line (Sports / Originals) or by All Products. There are also links to Help, an E-newsletter, a Store Finder (which I wasn’t sure why since this is about making/buying custom shoes and not inline) as well as a My Account page.
Still on the homepage, I did notice some inconsistency with how you were able to start customizing. If you click on any of the ‘Sport’ shoes, the hero shot includes a link to start customizing, but the hero shots of the Originals do not include this link.*
*Update – This has now changed from my initial review. There are now links to ‘Start Customizing’ for both Sports and Original.
If you decide to see all products, you will be taken to another page that has Sport and Originals separated into two columns populated with various shoe inspirations – about two or so for each model. A ‘Details’ link beside each custom shoe will take you to a page specifically for that model providing description, three different shoe views, and additional inspirations for that particular shoe.
At this point, I was ready to start customizing. I simply clicked on the ‘Customize’ button which is visible at various areas on the page. I decided to go with the Superstar II for various reasons – nostalgia, love for the ‘shell-toe’, love for RunDMC, or love for the 80s – not sure, but I digress.
The main customization area is one screen separated into three vertical sections. The left side is split into four panes – Side, Top, Bottom and Personalize. The middle section is the information or selection area. This is where you select your size, gender, colors and materials for the different parts of the shoe. The right side has an image of the shoe being customized which updates as various selections are made. The shoe is a 3D model image powered by Holomatix Blaze3D, or so it says when I right-click on that area.
You are able to rotate the shoe 360 degrees by dragging your mouse in a specific direction. There are also links at the bottom which allow you to change Background (white or black), change views (Top, Bottom, or Side) and Zoom (you can rotate while in Zoom mode which is pretty cool).
Once you’ve selected your size/gender, the left panel becomes ‘available’. It starts grayed out until you select size/gender. Before I dive in, I want to spend a few moments to talk about the Size selection. You are asked to select a Gender, Size as well as Width. With the Originals, the Width is usually always ‘Medium’. With the Sport shoes, you are able to choose a specific size and width settings (Narrow, Medium and Wide) for both the left and right foot. As the site says:
“Every foot is different. Even your own two feet are not alike. So instead of making your feet fit into some average shoes, why not make the shoes fit your feet?”
Believe it or not, there are some people that have this need. Both the left and right foot can finally be happy together.
So back to my Superstar customizing – I start with the ‘Side’ which opens up another panel with various side images of the shoe, each image having a certain piece highlighted to represent what will be customized. I’m asked if I would like perforation on the shoe or a print. But ‘print color is not available if you select no print or perforation’. This type of messaging is everywhere to the point of annoying confusion. I decide to go with the ‘classic trefoil’ as my print and proceed to select a print color before I am presented with another error message.
“The combination of print (color bloom) and lateral rear quarter (color bloom) is not allowed. Please change on the above options and try again.”
So if I wanted to have my print to be the ‘color bloom’ I would need to go to the next step and change the color of the ‘lateral rear quarter’ to something other than bloom. And if I decide to change the lateral rear quarter material from leather to suede, I get another message telling me I have attempted something that is not allowed. I think this would have been better represented in one main pane giving the user the visibility as to what is/is not available based on their selections. If I select a print, I see that only certain colors/materials become available. I totally understand the need for rules surrounding colors/materials/patters but I think it could have been better presented to the user. And if it wasn’t for the visual, would the average person really know what a lateral rear quarter was?
I continue through the rest of the shoe – Top and Bottom – encountering the same ‘messages’ as I continue to customize my work of art. I keep on pushing forward not letting the bombardment of ‘try again’ messages deter me from completing my masterpiece.
Now that I am pretty much satisfied with my color/material layout, it’s time to personalize. The Personalize area allows you to select a lace jewel and/or personalize your shoe with embroidery. The lace jewel gives you two options: birth date of your shoe or trefoil. The birth date is a pretty cool idea especially if the date is significant in some manner.
Adding text personalization to the shoe is pretty standard and has the same type of ‘profanity check’ present on similar sites. Although, in Seth Rogan fashion (see Tonight Show appearance late 2008), I was able to find some phrases/words that did not make the cut. Insert evil laugh here.
The Personalize area differs based on shoe. For example, the Stan Smith CF allows you to personalize the top and middle strap of the shoe. You can also add a ‘city print’ to the shoe (i.e. “I ‘trefoil’ Amsterdam”) with about 14 cities on the list – sadly no San Francisco.
The TS Bounce Commander (basketball shoe) even allows you to have a player quote and autograph on the underside of its lace cover. The athletes are obviously limited to those sponsored by Adidas, but very cool nonetheless. There are more cool personalization options based on shoe that I will not detail out here, but definitely good to see Adidas expanding this area of customization.
SAVE / SHARE
If you aren’t ready to purchase, you can Save your work to your ‘My Account’ page. You’ll be prompted to sign in(if you aren’t already) or register for an account to save your shoe in progress.
My Account list is almost a closet of sorts, displaying all the shoes you’ve saved. It’s a very clean, but plain interface. From this page, you can Add to Cart, Edit, and Send to a Friend among others.
The Share functionality is pretty limited. With Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Digg encompassing the social universe, none of these options were available. What makes it even more amusing is the fact that there is a miadidas Twitter page (@miadidas), but no way to access it from the actual site. The only Share option was via email, which works well. But there are times when I need to show my masterpiece to the world and get the thumbs up of approval. I would have thought a few ‘Share to Social Sites’ option would be available.
ADD TO CART / CHECKOUT
Pretty standard stuff here. You are presented with an image of the shoe you just customized along with the option to update/remove quantity, save to your account or re-edit by clicking on the shoe name.
Shipping is a flat rate of $12 regardless of how much you have in your cart with delivery estimate of about 3-4 weeks which is on par with other site.
All in all, Adidas’ entry into the online customization world has gotten to an ok start. I could definitely see some improvements in the user follow as it relates to rules with colors/materials as well as addressing some of the consistency issues. But for the most part, the experience was good. But I’m not sure if most of the ‘good’ is based on the fact that I love Adidas originals and having the opportunity to customize them is pretty sweet.
I would love for them to expand the ‘Share’ feature considering how popular social sites are. They could start by tying in their Twitter page with the actual site.
I did like the use of 3D, which gives more flexibility when it comes to rotating and zooming. The personalization options were a definite plus along with the number of shoes available. They just didn’t go with their most popular lifestyle/sport shoes, but also offered sport focused shoes such as soccer cleats. I’ll definitely be getting the word out and will definitely be back to see what other creation I can conjure up and call my own or as RunDMC said, “My Adidas…”, or in this case mi adidas.
- Size/Width selection for both left and right shoe
- Shoe rotation and zoom capabilities
- Use of 3D modeling
- Personalization options
- Number of shoes available
- Pattern/material options
- Flat shipping rate
- User flow / shoe placement inconsistencies
- Presentation of rules for colors and materials
- Blank shoe can be easily accessed for Sport line but not Originals. Need to click ‘Start Over’ before presented with blank shoe option.* This has since changed.
- Sharing limited to Email only