Will shoe swapping be the new shoe shopping?
Author: Matthew Stern
Source: Retail Wire
Women looking for new shoes to wear without adding to the collection they have accumulated will now have an option to swap online, thanks to a new Los Angeles-based startup called Shoe Bank.
To use Shoe Bank, members upload images of shoes they want to make available for a swap and fill out a form with a description and information about their history. Within 24 hours, an individual at Shoe Bank approves the pair of shoes, posts it in the appropriate category (silver, gold or platinum) according to its retail price and brand, and rewards the uploader with a credit good for one pair of shoes in the same category.
Customers can search for shoes by characteristics like condition (from “new” to “very good”), heel height, brand, size, color and material. When a posted shoe is requested by a user, the website notifies the uploader and sends a pre-addressed, pre-paid USPS shipping label. Membership is free and users pay only shipping and handling when they swap, listed as a total of $9.90 for standard shipping. The site assures customers that “shipping cost is transferred directly to the shipping courier.”
Shoe Bank touts its marketplace as a more cost-effective way of getting rid of old shoes, estimating in a press release that a customer selling used shoes could only make back 50 percent on their initial investment at best.
The new website comes as customer attitudes about luxury items like designer shoes and formalwear continue to change. With even affluent customers being more discount-minded than they once were, there has been a proliferation of physical and online “vintage” thrift stores catering to a crowd looking for designer apparel but comfortable buying previously-owned product.
Subscription services like Rent the Runway have also become popular, allowing subscribers to constantly refresh their wardrobe by renting and returning pieces each month.
Elsewhere in the footwear world, mainstay retailers have been taking steps to make the shopping experience more attractive to today’s female customers. DSW, for instance, launched a pilot of two in-store manicure and pedicure services in 2017 and expanded the service to five new locations in 2019 — though this represents only a small fraction of the chain’s 1,000 stores.