Help, I need somebody! Service excellence drives sales in footwear retailing

Article
by ShopperTrak on 01-30-20

Footwear brands have impressively kept pace with customer needs in 2019 and are therefore treading a path of growth. Currently worth over US$ 225 Bn, the global footwear market is expected to grow at the compound annual growth rate of 3.1% up to 2026, according to the latest Credence Research Global Footwear report – great news for footwear retailers from the luxury to the athleisure ends of the market.

However, this is a competitive and fast-evolving market where strong brand positioning needs to be matched with excellent service at the point of purchase. According to recent research by PWC, 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. Fit and comfort also remain strong sales drivers, and in practical terms that boils down to the availability and skills of qualified assistants on the shop floor. In our latest eBook Footwear retailers and traffic data, we explore how retail traffic data can help increase the number of footwear browsers that are converted into buyers, whilst preserving the carefully-formed values and ethos of shoe brands at every shopper touchpoint.

“Footwear is a very hands-on, emotional purchase. It’s an assisted sale and will remain that way,” says Kevin Larke, Director of Sales at ShopperTrak. “Attentive store associates, available exactly when needed, are the lifeblood of these stores.”

Steps ahead in building trusted brands

Consumer expectations have shifted in the last decade, with sustainability and experiential retail now driving forces within the growing footwear market. Mission marketing – that ties into causes – is increasingly resonating with footwear shoppers, who then engage more deeply with their chosen brands. For instance, sustainable footwear brand Allbirds – which has pledged to operate a carbon neutral supply chain from 2019 – opened its first site in London in 2018 and has plans to expand throughout Europe.

Women’s footwear brand Rothy’s, which produces 100% recycled shoes, is planning expansion across the US and internationally. At Tom’s shoes, customers making a purchase “stand with us on issues that matter” – namely providing shoes and water for people in need. Timberland has also committed to planting 50 million trees by 2025 in a bid to play an essential role in creating a sustainable future.

Experiential retail boosts dwell time

With regards to experiences, an increasing number of footwear retailers are cleverly bridging the gap between online and offline shopping, and finding ways to attract store traffic, and encourage longer dwell times. Vans introduced its popular ‘House of Vans’ concept to London, featuring a gallery, cinema and skate park in a 30,000 sq ft space in Waterloo. Similarly in the USA, Foot Locker has launched its interactive ‘Power Stores’ concept, offering an event space and a “hub for local sneaker culture, art, music and sports”. Foot Locker plans to open upwards of 50 Power Stores over the next three years.

Brand perception must be matched by in-store service

In the vast majority of cases, once footwear shoppers are in store, they need assistance to complete a purchase. No matter how closely aligned a customer may be with the ‘brand purpose’, practical issues of fit and availability must come to the fore on the shop floor, to complete a purchase. This is where traffic data can help store managers optimize their labor scheduling and maximize the footwear sales opportunity.

With traffic analytics, footwear stores can develop staffing and a customer service strategy based on accurate traffic forecasts. This means that when high-opportunity peaks in traffic occur such as the arrival of new seasonal ranges, Back to School, Holidays, or during weekly Power Hours, the store has the most appropriate Shopper-to-Associate Ratio (STAR) on the selling floor.

Certainty around peaks equates to reliable service

By taking out the guesswork, conversion opportunities can be maximized, and excellent service delivered to shoppers. Decisions can be made about when best to use ‘marathoners’ and ‘sprinters’ – the slow-burn or quick turnaround footwear sales experts. It also helps to differentiate selling time and store tasks time, so that the customer experience is never compromised.

“The most important thing when improving conversion rate in an assisted sale situation such as footwear, is to ensure you have to right Shopper-to-Associate ratio,” says Mark King, ShopperTrak Senior Business Development Manager. “It becomes critical to understand where conversion opportunities lie and have the right people on the shop floor to assist with those potential customers.”

While the challenges facing retail may be set to continue as the industry adjusts to evolving consumer behavior, it’s positive to see that the footwear market is capitalizing on changes and growing accordingly. With traffic data insights store teams need never lose sight of how and when their customers expect help in their search for the perfect pair of shoes.

To find out how to drive business performance in your footwear stores using traffic data analytics, download our free eBook: Footwear Retailers and Traffic Data

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