Despite leaving the company five weeks ago, Shoebuy.com founder and former President and CEO Scott Savitz led a session at this week's eTail conference in Boston where he detailed the steps the online footwear retailer took to grow into one of the most successful online brands, averaging more than 8 million visitors to the site monthly and realizing gross margins in excess of 43 percent for those visitors. Here are eight of those steps:
1. Always remember why you created the business in the first place. Savitz founded Shoebuy.com in 1999 (the site launched in January 2000) after discovering that the marketplace for buying shoes online was strangely thin. Footwear at the time was a $40 billion market in the U.S., yet only $5 million of that was being sold online. Savitz saw an opportunity and acted upon it.
2. Be totally disciplined to your value proposition. For Shoebuy.com, that value proposition includes a bigger product selection, an unwavering commitment to customer service, free shipping and product returns, hundreds of thousands of product reviews, multiple payment options and an average product ship time of 1.4 days, among other things, Savitz said.
3. Put the customer first in everything that you do. Some ways that Shoebuy.com goes about doing this is by listing its phone number on each of its web pages; customer surveys; site feedback; engaging customers and prospects via its company blog and Facebook and Twitter pages; customer-driven merchandising; A/B and multivariate testing; and a 100 percent price guarantee.
Customer service has never been outsourced at Shoebuy.com. It's the one part of the business that's not scalable, Savitz said. If Shoebuy.com gets a customer service email, it will respond to that customer within a half-hour and the customer service phone calls are answered within 75 seconds.