Shoes for Crews rolls out shoemobiles

Business-to-business footwear merchant Shoes for Crews is hitting the road with its “shoemobiles,” trucks that will conduct shoe fittings at customers’ facilities. The West Palm Beach, FL-based cataloger launched the service in Orlando, FL, in late August; a second shoemobile started rolling in Las Vegas in late September.

Each 26-ft. truck is like a miniature shoe store with an inventory of 1,000 pairs of shoes in 60 styles. The trucks pull up to large hotels, casinos, and factories so that employees can walk right in and shop. Mark Mobley, who heads up the mobile division, estimates that each truck can service 15-20 shoppers an hour. As of early September, Shoes for Crews’ Orlando truck was scheduled to stop at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show, Walt Disney World, the Boca Raton Hotel and Resort, the Setai Hotel, and the Nickelodeon Hotel.

Shoes for Crew president/chief operating officer Matthew K. Smith says that Orlando and Las Vegas are prime markets for introducing the company’s mobile delivery services because of their high concentrations of hotels, restaurants, and theme parks. In fact, at press time the company was scheduled to open its first store in Las Vegas in October. Smith says an Orlando store is a possibility if the first one proves successful. The beauty of the mobile units, Smith adds, is that they can efficiently serve clients who have several thousand employees.

Smith says the shoemobile’s first fitting was more challenging than expected because of rain. “Once you’re in the truck you’re fine. But on a rainy day it’s a challenge” for the customers waiting to enter, Smith says. Shoes for Crews is working on creating an awning or other covering to keep customers from getting soaked while waiting. Smith says the truck’s second fitting was much more successful, with about 50 customers.

Ultimately the shoemobiles will make two stops a day, five days a week, handling a few hundred people each stop. Smith says typical stops will last two to three hours, but stops at larger facilities such as Disney World could be as long as six hours. Smaller restaurants and hotels in Orlando and Las Vegas will be serviced by “milk runs” in high-density areas. The shoemobiles are equipped with an automated point-of-sale (POS) system for quick ordering and turnaround time. Orders are downloaded in batches at the end of each day.

In addition to its catalog and Website, Shoes for Crews has a payroll deduction program with 14,000 companies servicing 100,000 locations nationwide. The program allows employees at participating companies to deduct payment for employees’ footwear purchase from their paychecks.
Heather Retzlaff Shoes for Crews president/chief operating officer Matthew K. Smith is also featured in our merchant roundup, “Mavens of merchandise,” which begins on page 48.

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