How to sell shoes online

Hello! I’m guessing you’re here because you are – or will soon be – a shoe brand founder. Almost every shoe brand founder I have helped in the last 6 years has wanted to sell their shoes online. It seems like the easiest option. Right? You don’t need to give away margin to buyers from big or small retailers. You can sell directly to customers all over the world for a healthy profit.

But selling shoes online isn’t as easy as you might think. You may already have come across stumbling blocks. Or perhaps you want to understand best practice before you brief your web designer. Sensible thinking!

This is a complex subject, which I’m going to help you with in detail in my upcoming masterclass How to sell shoes online. Join The Shoe Community to access all of my live masterclasses.

In this post, I’m going to help you ensure the decision to purchase feels like an easy choice for your customers.

1. Make it visual

To feel confident clicking “Buy now”, your customers need to be able to picture themselves feeling happy while wearing your shoes. Your job is to help them to easily imagine that experience. I call this bridging the imagination gap.

How to sell shoes online - Bridge the imagination gap

In order to make the experience as visually pleasurable as possible, invest in high quality photography. Use a professional photographer, and ensure they shoot these angles of your product on a white background:

  1. 3/4 view – like side view but the toe is rotated 45 degrees towards you – this is usually your main product shot
  2. Side view
  3. Top/birds eye view
  4. Back view
  5. Front view – more useful for boots
  6. Detail shots
  7. Sole view – this often gets left out but it will prevent your customers from emailing you just to ask about the sole!
  8. On-foot shot – style this carefully – if you have the budget and bandwidth to make it a video, do.

Now you have the functional shots you need, engage a photographer and a stylist for some beautiful lifestyle shots. These are taken on a model – or other suitable person – and will be used for banner images. You can also use your lifestyle shots as extras on product pages, for social media, press etc.

When deciding on the location, outfit, hair and make-up for these images, make them aspirational but relatable to your customers. They should be able to imagine themselves in that outfit in that location.

2. Make it easy

If you only have a few products, don’t feel you have to overcategorise. It’s fine to put all of your products on one page rather than force browsers to click “Shop -> Category” to get to your shoes.

Use your imagery to take your customers on a journey from inspiration on your home page to exploration on your shop and product pages with zero friction in-between.

how to sell shoes online - friction

Your product pages need to be highly informative, but they should also feel warm and human. Include easy-to-locate facts about sizing, measurements and materials in bullet points. Then add a short paragraph telling the story of the effect that wearing these shoes will have on your customer. Describe the solution your product provides in a way that captures their imagination.

Lastly, make it easy for them to trust your brand and products by including customer reviews. New shoe brand founders often worry that a product with no reviews will be viewed negatively. In fact, most customers will probably just think that shoe style is new to the market. It’s good to have review functionality in place for when you do make sales.

Build your product pages so they help your customers anticipate the joy of wearing your shoes.

3. Make it satisfying

At no point in the purchase journey should your customer get frustrated at the number of clicks or other obstacles your website puts in their way.

To work out which elements are most likely to cause vexation, put yourself in the shoes of your customer and try the full journey out yourself. If you don’t have a website yet, note down what you love and loathe when shopping on other brands’ websites. Feed this into the brief you give your developer.

how to sell shoes online - woman shopping on phone

You don’t have to introduce gimmicks to make the experience of buying your products a satisfying one. Smooth functionality is important, as are the words your customers read and the images they see. Communicate with your customers in a way that makes them smile, and you are much more likely to get the sale. Not only that, but your customers will shop with you again and tell their friends about your wonderful brand.


For more tips on selling your footwear online, join The Shoe Community to watch the full How to sell shoes online masterclass with special guest Claire Burrows from Air & Grace.

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