Will shoe swapping be the new shoe shopping?

Discussion
Roni Harel, CEO, Shoe Bank - Photo: Shoe Bank
Oct 16, 2019
Matthew Stern

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.

Will shoe swapping be the new shoe shopping?
Photo: Shoe Bank

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.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do marketplaces that facilitate swapping like Shoe Bank stand to impact how traditional shoe retailers do business? Do you see this service meeting a consumer need, and how might the site stand to profit long-term from facilitating shoe swapping?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"As we’ve seen with other rental businesses, the logistics are challenging and profitability allusive. Shoe Bank is a cool idea, but whether it will be big is uncertain."
"Cool idea that should get a good degree of interest from their target audience. But what is the revenue model?"
"Shoes are an important fashion accessory for men and women and I do not believe that traditional shoe retailers will be impacted by shoe swapping platforms such as Shoe Bank."

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "Will shoe swapping be the new shoe shopping?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

The concept is interesting and on point with the current rental trend. And while I have no doubt there is a market for a service like Shoe Bank, I don’t think it will have an impact on traditional shoe retailers for some time – if ever. As we’ve seen with other rental businesses, the logistics are extremely challenging and profitability allusive. Shoe Bank is a cool idea, but whether it will be big is uncertain.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

We’ve all heard the phrase, “I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.” Well, I guess that is no longer the case. However, although the idea appears novel, I don’t see it as being one that will be a huge success. It’s true that Rent The Runway has had some success, but clothes can be dry cleaned and shoes cannot. Some people are very rough on their shoes, and they can have odors caused by several foot issues. So while I see some people giving this a shot, I don’t see it as a service that will be used by a majority, and I doubt it will have much staying power.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Good luck with that one! Of course, I am a man so, what do I know about shoes…?

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

This is very much a niche market and absolutely an offshoot of the momentum around the sharing economy. The concept of ownership has blurred somewhat, with Rent the Runway, Le Tote and other subscription rental businesses. However, while shoe swapping may have its place in larger more cosmopolitan cities such as NYC, etc., there will be minimal to no impact on the traditional retail shoe market.

This does address the need to stay on-trend, without a customer having to buy the most expensive shoes which will go out of style by next season. There will certainly need to be the right infrastructure and supportive supply chain capabilities to make this successful.

Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

Where does Shoe Bank make money? Do they take a commission off the sale of the item a person puts up on the site? While this is a novel idea, I don’t think it will cause sales to drop at traditional shoe retailers, nor will it cause issues for RTR or other platforms.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

Cool idea that should get a good degree of interest from their target audience. But what is the revenue model? Profitability on this will be elusive for sure. I see this as a complement to a larger vintage clothing company.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

There’s an “ick” factor here I can’t get past, but I guess that’s just me. I don’t see shoe swapping going much beyond fad phase, and it’s hardly likely to impact traditional shoe retailers to any material degree. Old styles may get traded out, but new styles will always drive sales.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

This is a great idea for that special occasion that demands an unusual shoe, but DSW and its cousins have nothing to fear.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

The sharing economy is a reality that retailers need to recognize. This type of marketplace as Arun Sundararajan explains in his book “The Sharing Economy” is really what he describes as “crowd-based capitalism” where you are organizing economic activity around a platform model. Shoe sharing as a business model is yet another example of this. It serves several purposes; the desire for community, the desire to save money, the desire to be sustainable, the desire for variety and the desire to impress others. As a marketplace becomes bigger, communities of sharing become more specialized. The needs of a few become niche markets and platforms like Shoe Bank bring them together.

Karen S. Herman
BrainTrust

Shoes are an important fashion accessory for men and women and I do not believe that traditional shoe retailers will be impacted by shoe swapping platforms such as Shoe Bank. I see this service fulfilling a need for a limited range of consumers but I’m most concerned that it could impact charitable donations of new and used shoes to nonprofits such as Soles4Souls.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

And Shoe Bank makes its money, how? As a self professed collector of shoes I see potential in this but there is a lot I don’t get about it.

Women have been doing clothing and shoe swaps forever on a local basis. Shoe Bank is intriguing and confusing at the same time. Say I’m in the market for a pair of Manolo Blahnik Mary Jane’s – Carrie Bradshaw’s urban legend shoes. According to the article, once Shoe Bank approves the pair of shoes I want to swap it rewards me with a credit good for one pair of shoes in the same category. Manolo’s are expensive. What happens if the uploader only has moderately priced shoes like Nine West? How does she upgrade? I just don’t see this as being a big thing. Prove me wrong, Shoe Bank.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I think there’s a measurable, not huge, but potential market for shoppers willing to give up their shoes, clothes, or whatever they don’t want any longer for something new (new to them, anyway), regardless of the loss of the original investment. Good luck to this company.

Jasmine Glasheen
BrainTrust

My question on this is the demographic. Rent the Runway caught on because a lot of women want to wear designer clothing, but if the shoes being swapped are like those pictured (very high heel Louis Vuitton-type situations) I don’t think that enough women are actually wearing this type of shoe often enough to constitute a noteworthy business.

I’m all for resale and rentals, but whether there are enough customers to build a platform is uncertain.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

It is basically the “uber-fication” or a variant of eBay if you look at it. The Shoe Bank carries no stock and adds value by serving as the middleman between the two parties. I think there is a niche, but the question is cost and profits given it is paying for the shipping and processing out of the $10 transaction. It would be curious what the path of profitability is and how much they can scale.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

DSW can rest easy. This is a flash in the pan.

Some consumers will have the “ick” factor; some will be put off by not finding the shoe they want in their size; others won’t want a worn-looking shoe. After all, who wants to be down in the heels?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"As we’ve seen with other rental businesses, the logistics are challenging and profitability allusive. Shoe Bank is a cool idea, but whether it will be big is uncertain."
"Cool idea that should get a good degree of interest from their target audience. But what is the revenue model?"
"Shoes are an important fashion accessory for men and women and I do not believe that traditional shoe retailers will be impacted by shoe swapping platforms such as Shoe Bank."

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