Shoes For Crews: Surefooted for Recession

Shoes For Crews sells slip-resistant footwear to the foodservice, hospitality, industrial, healthcare, and supermarket industries.

How is it handling the down economy? Quite well, since it’s the largest provider of slip-resistant footwear to the quick-serve restaurant industry, says president Matthew Smith.

The recession has inspired many consumers to flock to fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King for their value offerings, instead of more expensive dining options.

“We do also serve the full-service, fine-dining, and hotel industries—which have been hurting,” Smith says, “but the quick serve restaurants have saved us, for sure.”

Shoes For Crews’ sales increased nearly 10% through the first quarter, and annual catalog circulation rose around 9%. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can keep it up,” Smith adds.

Another factor helping his company weather the economic storm: Its footwear uses an exclusive and patented slip-resistant outsole technology. Shoes For Crews also prides itself on operational excellence.

“If you don’t take care of your customer, they’ll surely go elsewhere,” Smith says. “It’s got to be an easy process all around, from order to delivery to returns.”

That’s why Shoes For Crews introduced “Free Exchanges and E-Z Returns” within the past year. “In the past, our customers had to pay to send back their footwear purchases from us if they were not happy,” Smith says. “Now, we have a prepaid UPS Return Label placed in every shoe box we send out.”

Exchanges are free, and if a customer wants a refund, Shoes For Crews charges a minimal stocking fee. “We’ve had an amazing response from our end-user customers and large corporate accounts,” Smith says. “I think that we eliminated the most vexing problem for our customers, and improved the overall customer experience.”

Want to read about more marketers doing well right now? Look for the May issue of Multichannel Merchant.

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