The global footwear market is estimated to grow with a CAGR of 5.5% in the next seven years.
Significant growth of the footwear market makes an online shoe business a promising business idea.
Many first-time entrepreneurs get super excited to start their venture, but even the most passionate minds find it difficult to tackle challenges when it comes to actual selling.
When it comes to selling shoes online, the most significant barrier is return rates. In footwear, they are as high as 35%, three times more than in general eCommerce.
As an eCommerce store owner, the last thing you want is to handle product returns – the most challenging aspect of doing business online.
To avoid such complications, you need a solid strategy that works right from choosing a type of shoe to delivering an exceptional experience on your website.
With that in mind, we have prepared this detailed guide to provide all the information you need to start an online shoe store from scratch.
A Product Idea That is Trending
It’s up to you whether you want to sell shoes, for men, or women, sneakers, boots, or any other type. A good thing to do is to do market research and understand what works and what doesn’t. Suppose you are in Europe and you want to sell in the Asian market. Start by asking questions: which are the best-selling shoes in Asia? Which specific product do I want to focus on? How will I sustain my business?
If your goal is to sell any and every type of shoe, beware it’s not a smart move.
Of course, everybody needs shoes. But targeting everybody is a risky thing in eCommerce. We suggest starting by choosing a niche product that aims at specifying specific market needs. You might have already figured out but in case you have not, here’s what you can do
Instead of thinking – “I want to sell men’s shoes,” focus on a narrow market like leather shoes, knee-high boots, sneakers, and so on. Focusing on a niche will aid in getting in front of the right audience for a small business.
No matter which niche you choose, one way to stand out from your competitors and build a loyal customer base is to consider offering customizable shoes.
Your customers no longer want to have the same generic white sneakers. They want to add a personal touch to their shoes, and hence biggies like Adidas and even startups have started enabling product customization.
Online Shoe Business Prerequisites
Before starting an online shoe store, you have to get into the nitty-gritty of clearing legal requirements and creating a strong brand identity.
Here’s a complete checklist of what you need to have before starting an online shoe store
1. Your Store’s Name
Make sure the name of your online shoe business represents your vision in just one or two words. Don’t be obscure but think of something that is memorable. Tools like Shopify’s Business Name Generator, Brand Bucket can be helpful for brainstorming.
2. Business License
Starting an online shoe store doesn’t exempt you from certain legal requirements. The licenses you require depends on the type of product, and your business requirements. Moreover, every state and city has different requirements which you need to find out. Some licenses that an online shoe business requires include:
- A Business Operation License which allows your eCommerce business to conduct business in your city, county, or state.
- An Employer Identification Number (EIN) that identifies your business as a distinct tax entity.
- A Seller’s Permit (or Seller’s License) to legally sell the shoes online.
3. Brand Logo
A logo is one of the most recognizable things about your business. A well-crafted logo can send the right message to your target audience. Use simple icons and fun colors to communicate who you are and what you do. Tools like Logomaker, Adobe Illustrator will make your task easy.
4. Product Pricing
A product with a high price might see fewer sales. While lower rates are not always ideal. As a store owner, the best you should do is balance. After considering factors like product and business cost, competitor’s price, and revenue goals, choose the right pricing strategy for online shoe business.
Figure Out How to Managing Supplies for Your Store
Once you figure out the right product for your shoes, the next step is to source products for your store.
When starting an online shoe store, consider these three options
- DIY products
- Hire a manufacturer or wholesaler
- Hire a dropshipper
1. DIY products
If you want to craft your own shoes then go for it. With the DIY approach, you will have a complete control over your brand. Secondly, the startup costs will be low. However, this will take up most of your time and energy. Think of will you manage your store, sell, and market along with creating the product.
If you are creating the product from scratch, here’s what you will need to do
- Source materials
- Look for a renting space to store the inventory
- Either hire a shipping service or run to the courier service yourself
2. Manufacturer or Wholesaler
If you are not ready for a DIY product then hire someone to make the product for you. This approach will need more investment.
Somebody else is making your product that does not mean you have no say. As a brand owner, you have complete control over the quality of your product and the brand.
When choosing a manufacturer or wholesaler, there are two points to keep in mind:
- If you are looking for ready-made products to sell then you can source the products using Alibaba, or partner with an already established shoe company.
- If you want a manufacturer who makes your product, you can easily search on directories, Google, local library, referrals, etc.
Here are a few important questions to consider before choosing a manufacturer:
- What is the minimum order quantity?
- What is the sample pricing?
- What is production pricing?
- What is the turnaround time?
Before you sign up with a manufacturer make sure that meets your expectations. It is always a good idea to ask for a sample item and make the decision accordingly.
3. Dropshipping Method
Dropshipping is a method where you can purchase from a vendor and list their products on your online store. The vendor will charge you as and when you sell the product, and ships orders on your behalf. This means you need not worry about inventory, packaging, or fulfillment.
In this approach, you will have a wide selection of products but you are likely to have more competition, as most of the products that your dropshipper offers are readily available all over the internet.
A Marketing Plan For Your Shoe Store
Once your products are up, it’s time to start driving traffic to your online shoe store. The objective is to develop a marketing strategy that puts your online shoe business on all the platforms where your followers are hanging out and then using different ways to connect with them.
Content to keep your audience updated with the latest trends in the footwear industry, the problems they’re facing, and how you can help solve those problems.
- Social media to share that content and then engage with your followers.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) to optimize your content, so it will show up when someone is searching for the information you’ve written.
- Embrace paid advertising to drive paid traffic to your shoe store.
- Craft personalized Emails to follow up with your customers to ensure they continue to buy your product.
A Home for Shoe Store: Launch your Website
Your products need an eCommerce website. There are two major eCommerce solutions
(a) SaaS eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, best suited if you do not want to deal with technical complications. The provider builds, hosts, and manages the software. This limits your ability to customize.
(b) open-source like Shopify, Prestashop where you can view, change, or distribute the source code as per your purpose. They give you complete control to personalize your source.
There are loads of eCommerce builders. Some are reliable, some require technical expertise, some are expensive, while some are budget-friendly. Here are some eCommerce platforms that you should consider when starting an online shoe store.
That was all the information you need to know for starting an online shoe store. By choosing the right product and delivering an exceptional experience, you will be able to establish a loyal customer base and ultimately build your
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