Cinderella discovered that the right shoe can change your life. Marilyn Monroe mused if you “give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” Top retailers know that introducing shoes into their product mix can change their business.
Learn how you can incorporate shoes into your clothing store with these tips:
LEARN THE TERMINOLOGY. Like any industry, shoes definitely have their own jargon. Brush up on manufacturing terms, heel descriptions and shoe parts before you place an order. It’s also important to understand differences in shipping terminology – open stock means you can order a combination of sizes, case pack means that you receive a manufacturer-selected assortment of sizes that can be based on most popular sizes, availability or both. Knowing these terms will help you better work with the lines.
UNDERSTAND SIZING. While they are based on a different numbering system, apparel sizing techniques can be applied to shoes. Introduce a shoe line like a new clothing line – with the most common sizes, 8 and 9. Once you have the line for a while you can adjust your ordering based on your customers’ needs. As with clothing it’s also important to know nuances in sizing across the world. European styles do not have half sizes and British size equivalents are one less than their American counterparts.
SURVEY YOUR STORE. Most people like to sit down when they try on a pair of shoes. Do you have a place for them to take a seat? Also look at what your sales associates are wearing and encourage them to wear styles you’re selling.
ESTABLISH YOUR SERVICE LEVEL. Do your customers prefer to work with a sales associate? Feature a few shoe samples on the floor and have the associates bring the correct sizes out the customer with a few more options. If your store is more self-service oriented, stock the inventory on the floor and make sure the shoes are ready to be tried on: lace them up, remove any extra packaging and organize them by size and style. It’s also helpful to have a supply of disposable footies available near the try-on area.
ACCESSORIZE. The right accessories to go with your shoes aren’t just bags, jewelry and scarves, also consider carrying heel inserts, dust bags, tights, socks and hosiery that complement your product mix.
CREATE COMPLETE LOOKS. Dress your customers from head to toe. Include shoes with your display outfits or show them with a complementary accessory. Will those wedges look great with your “it” bag? Show them together and create a must-have fashion moment.
WORK WITH THE SEASONS. Shoes tend to have a longer shelf life, so you can continue to keep them fresh throughout the change in season. A great boot pairs with tights and a dress in the Fall and a heavy sweater in the Winter. Mix up your styling to showcase the shoe’s longevity and show your returning customers how great the shoes she bought from you last month look with a whole new outfit.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR BRANDS. Many people are shoe brand loyalists. Use their passion for the line to drive sales to your store. If the brand allows it, use their image or name in your advertising and store displays. Use the brands to get their loyal fans in to your store so you can turn them into your loyal customers.
Atlanta Apparel’s Temporary Shoe Studio and Premiere collections and Permanent Fashion Accessories & Shoes and Women’s Apparel collections feature dozens of trend-making shoe collections, all available at the March Atlanta Apparel Market (Showrooms: March 19-23, Temporaries: March 19-22, Social Occasion: March 18-20). See a full list of shoe showrooms on www.AmericasMart.com.
Special thanks to Brandon Brewer of Naughty Monkey and Not Rated and Matt Lombardi Fit Flop for their assistance with this post.