Shoes! We all wear them (we hope), but did you ever think you could make money selling them online? Well, you thought right! As of 2022, the global footwear market is currently worth $406.5 billion, and it’s poised to reach $530.3 billion by 2027!
How did it get this way? You have China to thank for that. They go gaga for shoes, hoarding 55% of all the shoes produced on Earth. Combine this with the “hype” trend of the 2010s where certain sneakers were fetching prices into the $10,000 range and, well, you have a veritable shoe storm on your hands. The market is there, and it’s growing fast. The time is right to start selling shoes online.
But don’t panic – we’re here to help you get started. In this article, we’ll break down the entire process into just nine steps, from doing the initial research and sourcing your stock, to selecting the best online store (and why we recommend popular ecommerce platform Shopify).
But what type of sneakers will you sell? Where will you source your loafers – and how will you go about selling them online? Our experts have you covered!
Ready to put your best foot forward? Let’s get started!
Before you start selling shoes online, you need to be clear about what type of footwear you intend to sell (your stock), and to whom you intend to sell it (your target audience).
For example, you could think about selling:
- Classic shoes for seniors
- Sports shoes for children
- Indoor shoes for gym goers
It’s vital that you identify a niche, because selling to a niche market is a lot easier than selling to, well, the whole market!
There are several market research techniques you can use to determine your niche:
- Market analysis: Browse through large online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay to see what types of shoes are being sold there, and which are flying off the shelves
- Customer development: Conduct customer interviews or surveys to understand your target buyers’ preferences
- Keyword research: Use tools such as UberSuggest and KeywordTool to see what people are searching for when it comes to buying shoes
- Conduct research to investigate trending shoes that are most likely to sell
- Based on your research, pick a niche and target audience
Once you know what type of shoes you want to sell – and who your potential customers are – it’s time to determine how you will source the shoes you want to sell. Let’s take a look at available options:
There are many people who buy pre-owned or secondhand footwear. If you or your friends have extra pairs of shoes you don’t have any use for anymore, you can sell them online. Once you’ve collected all the shoes that you can from friends and family, you can expand your search to local estate sales, consignment stores, and garage sales.
However, there will be a lot of variation in the wear and tear of each pair, which makes it important to inspect each shoe properly. Plus, going down this route isn’t as sustainable as sourcing a good supplier from the get-go!
If selling second-hand shoes isn’t for you, then purchasing shoes in bulk from a manufacturer or wholesaler may be worth looking into. There are many B2B directories online that you can use to locate manufacturers or wholesale suppliers for shoes.
A wholesaler, such as Alibaba, can provide you with ready-made shoes to sell online; while a manufacturer will make the shoes from scratch, according to your specifications.
However, most suppliers will expect you to place a bulk order for a minimum number of items upfront – meaning you’ll need to have a healthy budget ready to invest in shoe production.
Dropshipping is similar to sourcing products from wholesalers, except for the fact that you won’t need to purchase shoes in advance. In fact, you don’t have to hold any inventory at all – you’ll just list the shoes online with their details, and the prices that you want to sell them for.
When someone places an order through your online shoe store, it’ll be relayed straight to your dropshipping supplier, which will then take care of fulfilling the order and delivering the shoes to the customer. The main downside of this approach is that you’ll have less control over product operations, shipping, and quality.
Check out our guide to starting a dropshipping business to learn more.
- Decide how you are going to source the shoes to sell
- Find and contact suppliers based on your requirements
Next, you’ll need to decide on the best place to sell your shoes online. There are a number of options, each with its own perks and pitfalls.
Your Own Online Store
Building an online store is one of the best ways to kickstart your shoe business. You won’t get a ready-made customer base – as you will with other online marketplaces – but instead, you’ll have complete control over your business.
Number of products on cheapest plan
Number of products on cheapest plan
Number of products on cheapest plan
100+ including: Shopify Payments, Paypal, Klarna
11 including: Paypal, Wix Payments, Stripe, Square
36 including: Paypal, Square, Stripe, Klarna
Delivery and store pickup
Delivery and store pickup
Delivery and store pickup
Our choice of platform is Shopify. While Wix has a higher overall score, Shopify has a higher sales feature score with a 4.5 out of 5. This is an important distinction as selling shoes is a large market, so in an ideal scenario (with decent marketing and SEO efforts) you’d expect a lot of traffic to your site, and you’ll benefit from Shopify having the better sales infrastructure to handle bigger online stores.
Most people prefer social media as their first option for selling because it’s really easy to set up shop. All you need to do is create a Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest page, and your store will be up and running – though your reach and marketing opportunities will be limited to the social media platform you’re selling on.
Using a marketplace – such as Amazon or eBay – represents a more professional approach to selling shoes online. The advantage of a marketplace is that it’s already packed to the rafters with customers who are already interested in buying shoes.
Then again, your expenses will increase due to the sometimes hefty fees these marketplaces charge. These include the cost of posting the listing itself, as well as the fees for completing each sale of shoes you make on the platform.
- Research different ways to sell your shoes
- Pick the platform you’ll use to begin selling shoes online
There’s no way you can grow your shoe sales without showing off your flashy footwear in a way that turns heads. To convey the value of your shoes, you’ll need to show potential buyers what they look like, explain what they feel like, and persuade them to place an order.
For example, as an ecommerce-focused website builder, Shopify puts images front and center so your customers can have all the visual information they need before they make a purchase. They also feature slideshows and images of different sizes, giving a decent impression of the size of your stock.
There are other key factors to help cement the idea of your store in the customer’s head:
Any customer would want to take a good look at a pair of shoes before buying it. In fact, online buyers expect around 5 to 8 images for each product on a shoeseller’s website.
With this in mind, you should display multiple high quality photos with your listings, showing the product from all angles.
Your shoe description should correctly describe the product and convey its benefits, features, and limits. This is where great copywriting can make a huge difference.
You should know what your customers want, speak to them in a language that resonates with them, and deftly handle any objections or concerns with your product copy.
Shopify in Action: Coco Blue Shoes
- Learn more about product photography and copywriting
- Identify the main features and benefits you’ll cover when listing your shoes online
Setting the right prices is another crucial aspect of your ecommerce shoe business. High prices can deter customers, while low pricing can eat into your profit margins. It’s all about striking a balance.
To determine your shoe prices, consider factors such as product cost, competitor pricing, and your profit goals. Here are some helpful strategies to keep in mind:
- MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price): If you’re selling brand new shoes, this is the price recommended by the wholesaler or manufacturer
- Keystone pricing: This involves charging twice as much as the wholesale cost of your shoes.
- Competitive pricing: Research competitor prices, and use these as benchmarks to price your shoes accordingly.
- Work out how much each pair of shoes is costing you
- Use the pricing strategies above to research and finalize your prices
You already know about which types of platforms you can use to set up an online store. Now, the question is this: How do you actually set up your online shoe store? Let’s break this query down into a step-by-step guide, which will show you how to set up online shoe stores across different platforms.
Create your Own Online Store
These solutions make it easy for you to launch your own ecommerce website without needing any technical skills. They also take care of hosting, performance, and other aspects of your online store. If you’re ready to follow this route, here’s our complete guide to launching an online store.
Create a Seller Account on a Marketplace
To sell through an online marketplace, you’ll need to register as a seller. For example, if you want to sell on eBay, you can simply create an account, list your products, and start selling.
If you’re just starting out, creating a seller account is free. Then – as your business grows – you’ll be able to pay a premium monthly subscription to create your own eBay Store.
Sell on Social Media
Social media is another great place to start selling shoes. Most of the top social media sites have unique features specially designed for businesses.
For example, you can use Facebook Shops to build a shopping experience for Facebook users, and sell shoes on the platform. Better still, you can make your storefront there look like your own website, instead of just a standard Facebook page. For more information, check out our guide to selling on Facebook.
- Get acquainted with the process of setting up a shop on your platform of choice
- Start building your online shoe store!
Your online store is all set. Now, you need to plan for the packaging and shipping of your shoes. Good packaging is essential for protecting your shoes from damage, and for creating a positive brand impression. Your packing material should be durable, appropriately sized, and lightweight.
Concerning shipping, customers prefer to have several options, so it’s important to partner with a courier service that can help you provide those choices. You can choose from services such as USPS, FedEx, and UPS. What’s more, you can even offer a real-time package tracking feature that will give your customers peace of mind.
- Evaluate various packing and shipping options
- Select a delivery service provider based on your business needs
Once you’ve listed your shoes online, it’s time to start marketing. To begin, identify the platforms where your target buyers are the most active.
These platforms could be search engines, social media networks, shopping websites, and so on. Then, promote your shoes according to the best marketing practices across these platforms.
For example, if you notice that your potential customers are most active on Facebook, you can adopt the best practices of Facebook marketing. These will include strategies such as creating a Facebook page, posting interesting content on a regular basis, and running advertising campaigns.
Similarly, if people are searching a lot for the type of shoes you sell in search engines, you should invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Search Advertising strategies.
As you run these campaigns, keep a close eye on what’s working and what’s not, so you can invest in channels with the most return – and pull the plug on the others!
Anyone who’s tried to sell anything online can attest to the fact that it’s not easy. As a new seller of shoes, the biggest mistake you can make is to see your business as a get-rich-quick scheme, or something you can leave to tick away in the background.
Apart from that, chances are you’re going to encounter all sorts of issues along the way – but this is inevitable, so don’t sweat it! Still, the people who succeed in selling shoes online are those who treat it as a serious undertaking, and continually learn from their mistakes.
So, be ready to invest a good deal of time, effort, and energy (not to mention your heart and sole) into your shoe-selling dream – and you’ll increase your chances of turning it into a reality!
Our recommendation is to build a store through Shopify – its features are just way too useful and it has the infrastructure to handle all the traffic if your site blows up in popularity (make sure you follow our steps!). Still, let’s do a quick recap to keep everything fresh in your mind.
How to Sell Shoes Online
- Do your research
- Source your shoes
- Decide where to sell your shoes online
- Showcase your shoes
- Price your shoes fairly
- Set up your online shoe store
- Package and ship your shoes
- Invest in marketing
- Learn from mistakes
From choosing the right shoes to sell, to delivering an exceptional shopping experience, these steps will help you get your shoe business off the ground and into the stratosphere – while building a loyal customer base along the way. We believe you now have enough information to start selling shoes online! Best foot forward!
Like all business ventures, it will require hard work and patience. Expect to make many mistakes, but as long as you learn from them, selling shoes is a solid base for a profitable company.