Everyone needs shoes — and that need helps drive innovation in an important sector of retail. In fact, several hot commerce trends involve footwear as the new decade approaches.
Take subscription commerce, an increasing part of daily consumer life.
Just a few months ago, news emerged that Nike has launched a subscription program geared specifically toward children. Called the Nike Adventure Club, it allows parents to order shoes for their kids ages 2 to 10 and to pay either $20, $30 or $50 a month to again access to new shoes quarterly, bi-monthly or monthly. The most expensive $50 option takes off around $10 per pair of Nike shoes purchased (as the average retail price is $60).
Nike’s kid business has been a reasonably powerful revenue engine for the nation’s largest shoe company — with growth of 11 percent over the last year — and the new program comes just as parents are engaging in the annual back-to-school festival of commerce.
“One of the things [Nike CFO] Andy Campion gets excited about, is we are now building relationships with kids from 2 years old,” said Dave Cobban, general manager of Nike Adventure Club. “Hopefully they will remember us and feel strongly toward the brand.”
And children need new shoes fairly often, because they play hard and because their feet are constantly growing. Under age 3, children change shoe sizes four times a year, between ages 4 and 8 three size changes are not unheard of and between 8 and 12 two pairs of shoes a year is about average.
Cobban said Nike has been testing this subscription platform in stealth mode for the past two years under the name “Easy Kicks.” It amassed about 10,000 members via Facebook ads. The adventure box concept, additionally, provides more than just footwear, it also comes with an activity guide, stickers and an additional gift like a drawstring backpack.
It will offer about 100 shoe varieties to choose from, including ones made by Converse.
Marketplaces, too, are taking a role in footwear retail.
That’s the story with GOAT (short for Greatest Of All Time), a marketplace that specializes in selling both new and used sneakers (usually special edition, rare or otherwise desirable finds) for the large and lucrative market of sneaker collectors.
Today, a little over four years in, the firm is one of the better-known show marketplaces on the web or mobile — particularly among sneakerheads. But when GOAT first launched in July of 2015, it was having some trouble getting attention. Sales were weak to nearly non-existent. So the startup decided to goose its revenue with a Black Friday promotion on Instagram.
“This Friday only: get the Yeezy Boost 350 Pirate for retail and other kicks at up to 75 percent off,” read the Insta-ad that immediately got the world’s attention.
Yeezy Boost 350 Pirate is a Kanye West-designed sneaker that lit the world on fire in 2015, and they were not easy to come by, at least not at regular retail prices. A roughly contemporaneous look at the pricing of Yeezy Boosts on eBay would find consumers paying $1,200 on the low end for lightly used sneakers and as much as $20,000 for new specialty variations. The post went viral, and from a sales perspective was both a stunning success and a crashing failure.
Emphasis on the crashing; so many consumers arrived trying to snap up that very desirable Black Friday promotion the site spent most of the day going down. GOAT, according to Co-Founder Eddy Lu, spent the bulk of the day accumulating hate mail from legions of dissatisfied customers who didn’t get their Yeezys.
It’s never boring when it comes to retail, and that holds especially true for shoes.