Shoe Bank CEO and Co-Founder Roni Harel loves shoes — and she has tons of them sitting in her closet. “Most of them I don’t wear,” Harel told PYMNTS in an interview. She doesn’t get rid of them, and they sit unused because she already invested the money to buy the shoes. And, even though Harel has an extensive collection, the entrepreneur has always wanted new shoes. Harel realized that she was not alone in this yearning, so she went about thinking how to make the shoes she already had into a liquid asset. She wondered: Why not buy shoes with shoes?
Today, her platform, Shoe Bank, lets users exchange a pair of shoes they no longer want for the ability to receive a different pair from another user. Through the Shoe Bank reCommerce platform, consumers can upload pictures of the shoes that they don’t wear and get credit for a new pair. “So every pair you upload will entitle you [to] another pair of shoes that you want,” Harel said. If a consumer has a pair of Zara shoes and a pair of Gucci shoes, she can upload them both and receive two credits in return. But not all two credits are equal.
The company divides the credits into tiers of silver, gold and platinum categories based on brands and pricing. The silver tier is on the less prestigious end of shoes, with the inclusion of brands such as Zara or H&M. Shoes from a high-end brand such as Gucci or Louis Vuitton would fall into the platinum level. Brands in between those levels would fall into the gold tier. As a result, a consumer couldn’t offer a pair of Zara shoes to the bank and receive Gucci shoes in return. But if she uploads Louis Vuitton or Prada shoes, she could receive those Gucci shoes.
When it comes to shoes on the platform, the company seeks pairs that have only been worn once or twice. Those shoes consumers might have gotten by mistake. Alternatively, they might have wanted them for a special occasion such as a picture or a wedding. The company also has a system of reviews. Consumers receive reviews from other swappers as well as from the admin. When users receive four reviews with a 4.5-star rating or higher, they will become a Super Swapper that Harel says is like the Airbnb’s Superhost level.
Users who attain that premium level can receive some special benefits. They can be the first to see new arrivals 24 hours before everyone else and can receive special premium member offers. These users can also put a certain shoe on hold for a maximum of four hours while they make their decisions. And, when it comes to the advantages of swapping shoes over selling them in general, the company says consumers might only get a fraction of a shoe’s value if they sell a pair.
It notes that “if a woman sells the shoes, she will only get 50% of the value at most.” With Shoe Bank, however, Harel says, “you keep the value.” If a consumer contributes Prada, she can receive Louis Vuitton in return. Customers who swap shoes pay for shipping, with a different fee for a padded envelope and a flat-rate box. The company charges a handling fee for each transaction.
P2P Clothing Platforms
Beyond Shoe Bank, other peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms are driving innovation in the fashion sharing economy space. RentMyCloset, for instance, allows consumers to share their fashions with the world and borrow clothing from others. The site is a “web-based platform,” RentMyCloset Co-Founder Christian Parent told PYMNTS in a previous interview, although, “we want to have a mobile app in the future.” The site has two sides to its marketplace, with people who are listing items on one side of the equation with those looking to rent items on the other side.
Listings can be an individual item or an entire outfit, and the platform accepts both women’s and men’s clothing. Listers only have to provide a few points of information to put an article of clothing or an outfit on the RentMyCloset site. The company, for instance, needs a name for the listing that could be as straightforward as distressed jeans with Express button-up men’s shirt. A lister, in another case, can say what kind of occasion for which consumers should wear the outfit or article of clothing — a date night, for example.
From RentMyCloset to ShoeBank, eCommerce innovators are allowing consumers to swap or rent out their wardrobes with the help of eCommerce networks.