10 Key Challenges Faced by Footwear Industry – And How to Solve Them

Challenges Faced by Footwear Industry

The retail footwear industry has radically changed from where shoes are sold to the styles and trends consumers are looking to purchase. Footwear brands invest tens of millions of dollars each year in their people, stores, and distribution centers to ensure the timely delivery of high-quality footwear. In fact, footwear has one of the strongest supply chains in the world.

The footwear industry currently faces the same challenges as other industries: how to adapt to ever-changing consumer preferences, manage the cost of goods or raw materials, human resource and financial challenges, inadequate digital landscapes, and how to develop and implement omnichannel market strategies. In the midst of all these changes, retailers continue to survive through the use of innovative, smart, and robust strategies, both online and in physical footwear stores. Fast-Track implementation services provide best practices for industry scenarios and the tools needed to plan, complete, and accelerate the configuration and implementation of proven retail solutions.

Here are 10 Ways Brands Can Beat the Challenges Faced by Footwear Industry in 2022

#1: Consumers are Choosing Omnichannel Shopping Experiences

Customers are transitioning seamlessly from online to offline experiences and are open to shoe retailers who can best facilitate these transitions. The explosion of mobile retail means that in-store research and “showrooming” – the practice of looking at a product in-store and then purchasing it online – are more common than ever. Online orders can be delivered to the local shoe store, often for free, further narrowing the gap between online and brick and offline retail.

The best solution here is to focus on creating a seamless, customer-centric experience across all channels. Customers are looking for retailers to deliver exceptional service across all channels and offline.

The real-time customer data can help them create an omnichannel customer experience that allows consumers to interact where and how they want, incorporating real-time feedback across all channels and devices and engaging the customer wherever they are.

#2: Improve Supply Chain Visibility

Over the past years, retailers have been faced with a steady stream of devastating supply chain issues and limited supply chain visibility. The retail supply chain can be cumbersome and slow, resulting in long lead times and an inability to make quick changes. Accurate forecasting is critical, and the consequences of getting it wrong can result in too much inventory due to insufficient demand, out-of-stock with little prospect of immediate replacement, or lack of inventory turnover, resulting in obsolete inventory.

Footwear retailers that take proactive steps to address supply chain issues ahead of time can do more than just survive; they can thrive with inventory optimization, automated shipping, and real-time data. It’s proven that when supply chain management is effective, it reduces a business’s overall costs and increases profitability.

#3: Meet Evolving Customer Demands for Faster Deliveries and More Variety

In the competitive footwear industry, brands must offer consumers the best value for their money. Style, fit, and comfort remain important factors in purchasing decisions, but equally important are durability, functionality, and adaptability.

What consumers want and expect can change faster than you can imagine. Footwear retailers need to be aware of seasonal trends and sudden changes in customer buying behavior. Making a few seasonal changes to your product line is usually all it takes to keep your store on track. The most effective way to address this issue is to always strive for innovation and timely and efficient delivery of products.

#4: Upskilling and Retaining Employees

The biggest challenge for a footwear retail store is retaining a core of long-term staff, and it has always faced the problem of high turnover rates. Why do you need to retain your high-performers? The benefits are reduced time and financial costs associated with hiring and training new employees, and loyal employees are also happier and more successful team members on the job.

One way to address this challenge is to increase employee engagement by periodically offering new and standardized training programs to maximize their potential. This process can be automated with workforce management and integrated with an ERP solution.

#5: Providing a Next Level Customer Experience

The customer experience is the biggest contributor to brand loyalty. You have to keep your footwear customers loyal through personalized services. While promotions and offers can help make customers feel special, personalization is the real key to a great experience.

Personalized messages and offers can be delivered via customers’ preferred method of contact – even the subject line of a personalized email can make all the difference – anticipating their wants and needs and guiding them through the sales funnel to their next purchase.

#6: Effective Retail Digital Marketing Strategy

Modern marketing requires businesses to engage with their customers on many different channels. Whether it’s SMS, email, or social media, multichannel communications are essential for engagement, which in turn leads to the creation of the perfect customer experience.

The right retail technology and communication procedures can ensure that all members of a marketing team are on the same page. A clear strategy ensures that all channels work together, not against each other, saving time and money.

#7: Managing Inventory, Fulfillment, and Returns Processes

Managing inventory and fulfillment processes can be a challenge for footwear retailers. It is essential for retailers to be able to accurately predict demand for their products in order to strike the delicate balance between avoiding stock-outs of the most profitable items and avoiding warehouses full of inventory that can’t be moved.

The best demand planning tools make it easier for brands by linking sales data and also considering seasonality and promotions to predict what shoppers will buy. Equipped with accurate inventory forecasts, retailers can regain control of their inventory and focus, if necessary, on replenishing the most successful items.

A well-managed fulfillment process ensures that orders are processed quickly and efficiently, reducing the time customers wait for their orders to arrive. Footwear retailers also need to ensure that extra sizes are in stock, as many returns get stuck in inventory transit. Therefore, seamless management of returns and cancellations is essential to increasing brand loyalty and sales.

#8: Optimizing Internal Communication

Managing multiple warehouses and stores is becoming more complex, and footwear retailers have more complex structures that require more sophisticated internal communication solutions. This can be a difficult task, especially for medium to large footwear businesses with multiple departments within the store.

Footwear retailers have many options for streamlining their internal communication processes. Today, many footwear retailers use enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to improve and integrate all retail departments and operations. This software centralizes the communication and processing of company information. This integrated retail platform can generate and share reports with other stores and help automate the distribution of tasks across multiple warehouses and stores.

#9: Rise of Eco-Conscious Consumerism

Due to the increase in eco-conscious consumerism, the footwear industry has come under fire for its energy-intensive operations.

An environmental audit helps develop a sustainable sourcing approach for your imported products by assessing suppliers’ commitment to environmentally sustainable practices, including environmental policy, waste disposal, work environment, and resource consumption. Sustainability gives you an opportunity to better connect with your customers and employees who are socially conscious and reduce the negative impact retail and eCommerce can have on the environment.

#10: Finding the Right Technologies

Modern technologies, such as point-of-sale platforms and customer management software, have had a positive impact on the retail industry. The solutions retailers have access to now are designed for maximum efficiency. Problems arise when it comes to finding the right technology. Not all existing CMS meet the needs of your customers. The wrong technology may cause your business to lose money, time, and energy. Retailers need to properly understand their business requirements in order to find technology that contributes to their bottom line.

Unified commerce, the solution to overcoming these challenges, is focused on a mission to automate the widely dispersed footwear industry to become technology-driven. Its order management and warehouse management (WMS) solutions automate customer supply chain operations for online and offline businesses.


Inflation, supply chain disruptions, and other issues will continue to challenge footwear retailers. However, they have sophisticated technologies that enable a more personalized approach to engaging customers and help businesses adapt to rapid market changes. You can overcome the challenges faced by footwear industry by fostering customer loyalty and a memorable shopping experience, retailers can expect to thrive in the emerging business environment, and they have the opportunity to raise capital for further investment to improve omnichannel capabilities and reduce costs.

ChainDrive ERP software for the footwear industry helps retailers implement solutions, including point-of-sale, CRM, accounting, inventory, and operations management, that can improve multichannel efficiency, promotions, and merchandise turns.

Request your free demo today to see how you can improve your footwear business with ChainDrive Footwear ERP software.

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