Shoe Retailers Embracing the Internet

Whether they are hunting down LeBron’s new Nike kicks or pricing the fluffy heels they see on a co-worker, shoe shoppers are having micro-moments everywhere, all of the time. Here are four tips for savvy retailers so that they may be there, be relevant, and benefit from these I-want-to-buy moments.

Perhaps we should stop referring to sneakers as fashion accessories, because they continue to grow their share of our cupboard space and our clothes budgets. Sneakers alone are a $34 billion industry in the U.S., and that figure is growing.

Internet shopping is playing a major part in that growth by placing the capability to test out new shoes or to buy at the moment into the hands of shoppers. “Sneaker heads” obsessively scour websites, message boards, as well as apps to discover the latest shoe models. Whilst a large share of shoppers will buy on a whim from the shop they get to first, others will buy shoes online and expect speedy shipping and free returns. Mobile has changed the way people shop–both online and in-store–into a set of crucial micro-moments that may influence a purchase decision more quickly than previously.

Here are four tips for retailers so they are can be present and relevant and win the I-want-to-buy moments.

Winning with group terms: shoes vs. sneakers

Shoppers say a whole lot with all the words they use. They may call a product one thing when searching for information, and another when they’re ready to buy.

Case in point: Considering Google data, we discovered that searches for “women’s shoes” are most closely connected with searches associated with sneaker culture: sneaker brands, release dates, custom kicks, and sneaker communities. Searches for “women’s sneakers“, we found, had a greater association with footwear retailers.

How people search in these I-want-to-know and I-want-to-buy minutes may also be influenced by where they are. We discovered that searches for “shoes” were highly concentrated at the Tri-State Area around New York, while searches for “sneakers,” were more evenly spread across the U.S. and had a higher-than-average concentration in the South.

Shoe shopping is moving to mobile

In their intent-driven micro-moments, people are increasingly turning to their smartphones to immediately take action. When they are curious about the launch date for the most current Nike Huaraches, for example, prospective buyers are pulling out their phones to get the info. In actuality, in September 2015, there were more than 3X more mobile searches compared to tablet and computer searches for “Nike Huaraches”

Online video plays a major role in a shoe’s ‘cool factor’

People today want to see the item before they see it in stores. Whether its unboxing videos on of hot new products, or sports highlights with celebrity athletes sporting custom kicks to producer hype reels, shoe videos are driving interest for countless shoppers and enthusiasts. On YouTube, there are over 80,000 “sneaker pickup” movies where sneaker heads discuss the killer kicks they have scored. The popularity of the genre of movies is up 72 percent YoY, and perspectives of product-review videos overall have increased by 50 percent.

Even less-than-legit shoes can induce category curiosity, albeit in a snarky way. This summer’s wildly popular “What are those?” meme began as a joke: Someone posted a brief video questioning the coolness of somebody else’s shoes, finishing with a fast pan down to the subject’s footwear as the jokester shouted his now-infamous question. The video quickly turned into a pop-culture phenomenon, garnering countless views on YouTube and then going viral across a number of different online platforms. As well as many knock-off videos which have gotten countless views themselves.

The path can extend past a buy

Call them what you will, there is a certain pride in the possession of shoes or sneakers. We see this in the after-purchase search history of buyers that hope to maintain their footwear appearing deadstock–that is, never worn.

Based on Google data, search curiosity about cleaning shoes was up 1.5x this August (YoY), and six of the top ten concerns people had about sneakers were associated with cleaning. While branded material addressing this question remains scarce (hint hint), dozens of user-generated videos posted by people are filling the gaps. Several have topped 100K views on YouTube, and a handful are nearing 1M.

Such after-purchase video micro-moments are often-untapped chances for shoe brands and merchants. Searches related to “how to” on YouTube are growing 70 percent YoY.

New opportunities in the purchasing procedure

Retailers who know these micro-moments can better connect with shoppers and drive sales. Below are a few ways you can be there and be relevant in their I-want-to-buy minutes.

How do people look for your product? As we saw with “shoes” vs. “sneakers,” it is dependent upon their intent. On your search campaigns, bid on the conditions most relevant to your offering and goals.

What are people shopping for right now? Keep up with regional and real-time trends. With this intel, a shoe marketer could see that hunts for strappy heels are spiking from the northeast, research on what’s causing the spike, and do it to boost inventory, start promotions, or craft smart creative during a trend.

What videos are people watching about your product? When it comes to shoes, unboxing videos, sports highlights, product-hype reels, as well as memes are effective way of connecting consumer to brand, so be sure to be there with articles and advertisements when those views happen.

What questions are people asking about your products? Before, during, and after the purchase, questions come up. Produce and promote content that could provide answers and win the respect of present and future clients.