Commercial sectors differ in multiple ways: implementation models, marketing techniques, positioning in the market, and so on. However, the general business environment implies particular pillars that are needed to prosper. The first and foremost pillar is online presence. The recipe for a successful business is simple: it includes the use of modern digital technology in conjunction with the market specifics.
In this article, we are going to overview the specifics of the footwear industry and explain how to combine them with the current e-commerce trends and how to make money selling shoes.
Why Sell Shoes Online?
Or, let’s say, why not sell shoes online? The footwear market is quite a wide niche that can serve people of all ages and with various needs. Moreover, shoes are a product in constant demand, which points to its relevance regardless of the time of the year and any other aspects that may endanger other sectors—tourism, for instance (as is well known, tourism is the sector that has been most heavily impacted by COVID-19 restrictions).
Here are some facts and figures, courtesy of Statista, to confirm the idea above:
- Global revenue in the footwear market will amount to $488.3 billion in 2022.
- The market is expected to grow annually by 7.65% from 2022 to 2025.
- In global comparison, most revenue is generated by the U.S. ($94.53 billion in 2022).
- The average volume per person in the footwear market is expected to amount to 1.54 pairs in 2022.
Hence, the footwear industry is attractive in its diverse opportunities and can prove to be highly profitable, if approached correctly.
Steps to Creating Your Footwear Brand
So, how to sell shoes online and make money? Like any other market, the shoe market evolves due to competition. Along with risks of loss, competition brings business owners the willingness to stand out from the crowd, to the extent of setting new standards sometimes. That is how e-commerce has become a mine for seeking an unparalleled solution. Further in this article, we will highlight the steps that can point you in the right direction in your digital endeavors.
Pick your niche and do market research
Choosing your niche is the first step on the journey of conquering the market; it will be of critical importance to your future direction and the ecosystem you will build and expand around your business. You can either focus on a narrow niche or select several footwear types and target a larger customer segment.
Obviously, starting with a specific type of shoes is more likely to eliminate initial risks and allows you to test your ideas in practice gradually. But if you have previously had commercial experience and are mature enough as a business owner to put higher stakes on your assortment, then you can freely combine several categories in one catalog.
So what are the most sought-after segments in the footwear market, and how can they be classified?
In accordance with a target audience, these segments are
Women’s shoes. This is clearly the most requested footwear niche, and this statement doesn’t even need to be explained. Many women enjoy shopping and like to dress up. For what it’s worth, the character Carrie Bradshaw from the TV series “Sex and the City” once spent $40,000 on shoes and almost lost her apartment.
Men’s shoes. Men’s fashion has certainly gathered pace in the past decade. Believe it or not, some studies show that sometimes men can spend even more on shoes than women do! Therefore, investment in men’s fashion items should never be overlooked.
Children’s shoes. Children are the most bouncy clients. Furthermore, they are constantly growing. These two factors may have a beneficial effect on sales.
Other groupings into which the footwear market can be divided are:
Classic shoes. Classic shoes are timeless. Either casual or formal, they may be simultaneously both practical and personable and may be suitable for any style and occasion. Such types of shoes should be in everyone’s wardrobe, and the ubiquity of this niche, therefore, often makes it lucrative for entrepreneurs.
Shoes for crews. The audience of this segment may be quite narrow, but work footwear should still be considered as a potential niche. Such items are designed for people of a certain profession, such as doctors or cooks, and must possess corresponding technical characteristics such as safety, waterproofing, or cold resistance.
Sport shoes. Sports shoes can be aimed either at amateurs or professional sportspersons. In any case, these items have their own standards for quality, for example, breathability. The sporting niche itself has many branches, which also provides a large selection for store owners—from simple sneakers and soccer cleats to figure skates and pointe shoes.
Once you pick your niche, market research must be your second step. There is a basic set of questions you should ask yourself before moving on to significant actions:
- How big is your potential market?
- Will this market grow in the future?
- Who are your top competitors?
- What market share do your competitors own?
- What share is available for you to own/take?
Along with market conditions, you should have a clear picture of who your potential customers are. For this, you should create an ideal customer profile (ICP): a description of the ideal user of your products. The ICP includes all necessary information about your target audience: geographical location, gender, age range, lifestyle (active, passive), buying preferences, shopping frequency, and so on. In addition, the ICP answers some other questions such as “What problems does your business solve for your clients?” or “What makes your products more suitable to them than your competitors’ products?”
Determine how you will source your products
When all general market and target audience prerequisites are collected, you can move on to the selection of how you will source the shoes you are about to sell. Generally, there are four main approaches to this process:
Pre-owned or second-hand footwear. This model is associated with local small businesses and is widespread among the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) business model.
Your own products. With this approach, you act as both manufacturer and seller. This means that you keep control over all activities including design, manufacturing, and sales. It is a perfect option for entrepreneurs who strive to build and develop their own brand with products thought out in every detail.
Manufacturers/wholesalers. This approach implies ordering products for sale from third parties. They can be wholesalers who buy products from manufacturers in bulk or manufacturers themselves. The biggest advantage of this approach is that you can buy at wholesale prices and then sell these products at marked-up prices.
Dropshipping. In this model, you will act as just an intermediary between the manufacturer/wholesaler and the buyer. One may ask, how does this approach differ from the previous one? With dropshipping, you don’t need to have your own warehouse—you simply order from third parties and they deliver this order to your final consumer.
Decide where to sell
The next step on the way to building a prosperous business is deciding on where to sell. There is a wide range of options and combinations of touchpoints with your customers. For instance, you can sell only offline, both online and offline, or focus exclusively on your digital presence. Pay attention to these three basic sales channels and, proceeding from the business data you’ve gathered earlier, pick the most appropriate sales channels or their combination.
Social media. Doing business through leading social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook is gaining traction. Such platforms offer all the necessary tools for reaching out to the right customer at the right time and making sales seamlessly. Start-ups often start their e-commerce business through social media, as it’s an enabling environment to expand clientele.
Marketplace. A marketplace is a platform that brings together vendors and buyers. As a rule, full-fledged marketplaces already have an active client base; therefore, all that remains for a marketplace seller to do is to create a store page on a given marketplace and start selling.
Physical stores. Despite all of the benefits of a comprehensive online experience, many customers still prefer to shop offline. It gives them an opportunity to interact with a product. This is especially crucial for a product such as shoes. Buyers need to feel the material of an item, inspect its quality, try on shoes, and make sure they don’t pinch. The article “E-Commerce vs. Brick-and-Mortar: Which Is Better?” explains in more detail why e-commerce capabilities won’t reduce the overall demand for physical shopping.
E-commerce store. Having an online store is an inevitable part of a modern business. Currently, it’s considered the best place to sell shoes. With all the e-commerce tools present on the market, business owners can manage to build an entire empire. Furthermore, such an option will enable you not to rely on any third parties, such as social media or marketplace platforms, and work on your brand concept in a flexible way.
Focus on your brand concept
There is nothing better than when you are able to realize yourself as a businessperson and creator, and there is nothing better than a well-developed brand concept. With its help, you can add value to your business and prove that what you offer to your clients is more than just a product. It significantly contributes to your brand recognition and establishes a firm emotional engagement with your customers.
Nike, an international sports footwear and apparel corporation, is a good example of a business that not only sells shoes but also translates a message. “Just Do It”, Nike’s slogan, inspires customers to greatness and motivates them to achieve their goals by wearing Nike’s sneakers.
How to create a brand concept as appealing as Nike’s and outsmart your rivals? Consider the following elements first:
Mission. Your business should set a clear goal of what challenges your products can address. These challenges can totally relate to your products but can also be associated with something indirect. For example, your shoe brand is built around the comfort of movement and at the same time promotes family values and encourages clients to spend more time with their families.
Name. Name is the core of any brand, as it’s the first thing customers see. It’s vital for a brand’s name to be distinctive, authentic, and resonate with who you are.
Voice. This is when your brand’s essence comes into life. These are the words you use to interact with your clients. For instance, if you run a brand of elite footwear, the voice should be more formal. If it is women’s shoes, awaken their imagination, for example.
Slogan. This element encapsulates your brand’s personality. It is a short and striking or memorable phrase that expresses an idea of a brand. Crocs, an American footwear company that sells foam clogs, has the slogan “Come As You Are”. This implies that when you are comfortable, you can do anything, and, thus, do it in Crocs’ shoes.
Develop your online shoe business
If you opt for an e-commerce store as your primary sales channel, then this article’s section is for you. The e-store is an ideal way to kickstart your business and buy and sell shoes online, and here is why:
- Global access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Improved client service through greater flexibility
- Direct personalized communication with your buyers
- Less paper routine
- Faster dispute resolution
However, building a website is a challenging task. In the majority of cases, though, it can be rewarding if you use the services of a professional e-commerce team such as Dinarys. If you choose to entrust your shoe store project to the hands of our talented developers, we can provide you with the following website development services:
- Ready-made website development on the base of Magento 2, Shopware, and Salesforce B2C Commerce
- Custom website development
- Hybrid development—the implementation of box solutions along with custom fine-tuning where necessary
Ready-made vs. custom development
To let you figure out which approach in website development to follow, let’s sort out the pros and cons of ready-made vs. custom development.
Ready-made website development means that you base your e-store on a box solution, such as Magento 2. This is definitely an easier and faster method to create a website than building it from scratch. However, the level of customization will be lower—each e-commerce platform has its limitations in terms of functionality. Let’s observe the pros and cons of ready-made development in more detail to determine whether this approach would fit your business needs.
- Simplicity and convenience
- Cost savings
- Shorter development time
- Technical support from a software provider
- Limited control over website development
- Lack of uniqueness
- Restrictions in potential scaling
Custom website development. This implies creating a website from scratch to include various functionalities developed to be as efficient as possible. In contrast to ready-made solutions, this option is more flexible but also more expensive.
- Full control over an online store
- Possibility to implement design and features that are not represented on the market
- High return on investment
- Easy to scale and plan future expansion
- Not plug and play, could take time to develop
- Higher initial investment
- Ongoing support is not included
- No free trial or demo version
Efficient marketing strategy: what to consider?
Whether you choose a ready-made solution or decide to build a website from scratch, you should build an efficient marketing strategy to engage your website visitors and get recognition among shoe-shopping fans. The main pillars of your marketing plan are
SEO features. The position your online store takes in search results matters. Therefore, you should keep SEO capabilities in mind when you choose the set of features for your website.
Email marketing. This is the process of sending commercial emails to your clients who have agreed to receive emails from you. Merchants use email marketing in various ways: to notify their customers about upcoming sales or other marketing campaigns as well as to remind them about abandoned products in their shopping carts. In 2022, global email users are expected to reach 4.3 billion. You should definitely integrate this method of interaction with your clients into your marketing strategy to drive sales and recognition.
Social networks. This is another method used by business owners in their marketing plans. First of all, social networks allow for humanizing the brand. Some additional benefits of this method are represented on the picture below:
Benefits of Developing Your Shoe Store on Magento Commerce
Magento is an e-commerce platform that provides multiple opportunities for designing a top-notch brand identity and presenting it effectively online. As specialists with years of dedicated experience in website development, in our practice we only use proven technology. That is why we often recommend Magento to our clients.
Must-have features of your shoe store
Let’s figure out why Magento can be a worthwhile investment and what benefits it may bring to your online shoe store.
First of all, default Magento comes with a full set of all the essential features needed for developing a full-fledged e-commerce store, including:
- Related products/cross-sells and up-sells: to encourage more purchases
- Wish list sharing: customers can send wish lists via email
- Sharing social media buttons: to showcase what customers have bought on social media
- Persistent cart: to save carts when customers leave the site
- Google sitemapping for online ranking
- Custom URLs: to rewrite and customize for easy SEO
- Multi-store support: to manage multiple websites from one account
- Printing: for packing lists, invoices, labels, etc.
- Create and edit orders: to use the admin panel as a virtual terminal
- Bulk export/import: to use CSV files to simplify migration
- Guest checkout: to attract customers who don’t want to sign up for e-commerce websites
- Order tracking: to track confirmed orders on your website
- Tax and shipping calculation: to be clear about pricing from day one
Building an online shoe store, like any e-commerce store, requires a thorough understanding of the market and potential customers’ needs. This information is a starting point for any successful brand.
Footwear businesses can leverage different sales channels, from social media and marketplace platforms to full-fledged physical and online e-commerce stores. The latter is the most efficient solution for creating a comprehensive brand concept.
As e-commerce consultants with years of experience in developing e-commerce solutions from idea to realization, we know how to promote your brand’s values through the use of digital technology. Contact us today to discuss how to start an online shoe store together with Dinarys!