Consumers Aren’t Shy About Buying Footwear Online, And That’s Good for Amazon

With sneakers hotter than ever, it’s a good time to be in the shoe business, especially if you’re Amazon.

The online retail giant, already the largest seller of clothes online, is set to dominate the footwear market just as it has done with apparel, according to new data from Fung Global Retail and Technology.

Utilizing data from Prosper Insights and Analytics’ Amazon Shopper Intelligence service, Fung examined where consumers are shopping online, and found that above all else, value was the most important factor when purchasing shoes.

This helped push Walmart to the top of the list of retailers where consumers most frequently shopped for footwear. Other value retailers also performed well, including Payless ShoeSource and Kohl’s, who rounded out the top 3.

Amazon, the fourth-most popular consumer destination for footwear, is steadily gaining share. In 2011, less than 1 percent of consumers shopped Amazon most often for footwear, but that rate rose to 5.1% as of Oct. 2016.

As retail as a whole continues to move online, footwear is proving no different. Consumers are now buying footwear online 9 percent of the time, up from 3.7% five years ago. And while only 3.7% of consumers buy 100 percent of their footwear online, 13.4% purchase at least half of their footwear on the web.

And with Amazon now investing in technologies that make shopping for footwear easier, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of buying shoes before they have a chance to try them on.

The study also provided insight on how consumers view retailers, and how that might help them better cater to their audiences. For instance, 85 percent of Zappos shoppers choose to shop the site because of its selection, while 82 percent of Nordstrom shoppers preferred Nordstrom for the quality of its offerings. Amazon, meanwhile, was a top destination among value-driven consumers, with 81 percent of Amazon shoppers citing price as the top reason for buying shoes there.

But whether they bought online or in-store, it was clear from the survey that consumers are hot for shoes at the moment, all of which adds up to good news for the footwear industry.

According to Fung, the footwear market is expected to grow at four times the rate of apparel through 2020—4 percent on average, versus only 1 percent in apparel. The firm forecasts that footwear’s share of total apparel sales will increase to 30 percent in 2020, and reach $92.9 billion.

In the U.S. footwear sales grew by 7.2% in 2015, to $76 billion, and footwear sales volume rose by 4.5%, according to Euromonitor International. The firm projects that category sales will grow by 4.8% in 2016, with 3.5% unit growth.

In its report, Fung accredited much of this growth to the increased popularity of athletic sneakers, sales of which grew 13 percent last year.

“Footwear is big business. The footwear category is showing robust growth and U.S. footwear sales growth is outpacing apparel sales growth,” reads the Fung report. “This growth is benefiting from casualized fashion trends, booties and sandals being worn year-round, and the athleisure trend—which is spanning luxury and discount price points.”

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