Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Shoe shop: Customer profile

Your market

Your customer base will be influenced by the extent to which your shop specialises - you might, for example, focus on upmarket women's footwear, including designer labels. Your market research will have helped you to identify any gaps in the market and the type of customer you can target. Most of your customers will be members of the public shopping specifically for shoes, or who just happen to be passing your shop - so a good window display is very important. This applies to your website too if you make online sales. Make sure potential customers can easily find what you sell and whether or not their size is in stock.

In some jobs where there is a risk of injury to workers' feet employers are obliged by law to provide protective footwear for their employees. If you sell protective footwear your customers might include local factories or construction and engineering firms who need such shoes for their workforce.

Cash, card or cheque

Your customers may pay you:

  • in cash
  • by debit or credit card
  • through an online payment service like PayPal or Nochex - for example if you sell footwear online
  • by cheque, although this is becoming less commonplace

Special offers and discounts

Shoe shops traditionally hold sales during the year, usually in early summer and in January and these provide an excellent opportunity to clear out old stock. There has been an increasing tendency in recent years to hold sales almost all year round because the market has become so competitive - and because poor weather often hits sales during traditional peak periods. The Black Friday discounting promotion in November has recently been introduced but some retailers think that this then affects sales in the peak December period.

Shoes can go out of fashion very quickly and if you are unlucky you can find yourself with money tied up in shoes that nobody wants. Regular discounting of items can be an effective way of shifting stock although if your periods of discounting are too frequent, you may find that customers simply wait for these rather than buying shoes at the full ticket price.

As well as seasonal sales, you might decide to try occasional special offers. For example, you might give your customers a discount if they buy more than one pair of shoes at a time, or perhaps provide free shoe polish or insoles with certain shoes or trainers. Many shops also give discounts to staff, regular customers, family and friends. Check out the local opposition for ideas and keep a close eye on any special offers you do make to be sure that they are working for you. Remember that promotions like these might encourage extra sales, but they will also affect the amount of profit you make on each sale.