There is one great reason to sell shoes online: There’s money in it. Don’t believe me? Consider the case of Beth Marbach, who made $4 million when she switched from selling books to selling shoes.
Or how about Benjamin Kapelushnik, a 16-year-old who makes a killing selling sneakers. One woman even made a whole lot of money selling her old used shoes. There really is a market for everything if you know where to look and who wants to buy…
I’m not saying that everyone will make millions selling shoes online, but there is definitely a market here. The global footwear industry makes more than $52 billion every year, and consumers in the US alone are spending over $29 billion on shoes each year. That’s a big money-pie, so why not take a slice?
Most people think of women’s footwear when they think of shoes to sell online, but that’s only one option. Beth Marbach started out selling 90% women’s shoes and 10% men’s shoes when "Sex and the City" was in full swing, and Carrie Bradshaw started a craze for women’s shoes. But after that, Beth noticed the men’s luxury market grew, and by the end she was selling 90% men’s shoes and only 10% women’s shoes.
Trends change, and it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse. Notice which shoes are selling well and stock up on those. Notice if the market is changing, and adjust what you’re selling to fit. It’s all about experimenting and finding what’s most profitable for you as you go.
Here’s a list of the main things to consider when deciding what shoes to sell:
Get shoes that’ll appeal to people ages 18-34 if possible, as they tend to be the biggest online buyers. Older buyers (65+) are less trusting of online shopping and don’t tend to do it as much.
Think to yourself: Who spends a lot of time online and may be looking to buy shoes? Stay-at-home moms, for example, may spend a lot of time browsing the internet, and want to buy shoes for themselves or for their children without the nightmare of going out to the store.
Seasonality is a problem if you’re selling flip-flops or knee high boots. Why? No one wants icicle feet in winter, and no one wears knee-highs to the beach. Check out the searches for these types of shoes in Google Trends:
In summer months, flip flop searches go up and searches for knee high boots go way down. You can compare those to the searches for loafers, which appear to be fairly steady year-round.
This doesn’t mean you can’t sell flip-flops; it just means you’ll need to be aware of your market and also stock winter shoes over winter, or pick types of shoes with steady sales all year round.
You don’t want to be the guy who ordered the same number of each size of shoe, only to find himself running out of common sizes and unable to move the smallest or largest sizes. You also don’t want a full stock of crazy colors that most people aren’t interested in when black is the most popular choice.
Unless you have a sure-thing niche market for crazy shoes, include some black shoes in your inventory, and stock more of popular sizes. In the US, the most common size is 8 for women and 10.5 for men. In the UK, it’s size 6 for women and size 10 for men.
There’s a large range of shoes you can choose to sell, including:
So which shoes are best for profits? Generally, the top 3 types of shoes according to Statistic Brain are men’s athletic shoes at 20% of the market share, followed by women’s casual shoes at 17%, and women’s dress shoes at 13%.
But these are broad categories with many styles to choose from. So how do you narrow it down? The best way is to do some simple market research using a tool such as the SaleHoo Lab.
SaleHoo’s Market Research Lab shows you which products are currently selling well. You can select shoes in the main menu and filter the results to find the best high-selling, low-competition options.
A little background research like this can help you to make a more informed decision about your market before you buy up a whole bunch of stock.
There are 3 main ways to source shoes for selling online. We’ll go through them, and then look at some supplier options for all kinds of shoes.
How it works: You buy cheap wholesale shoes in bulk from a wholesaler who sends them to you. You then resell the shoes online.
How it works: You list the shoe styles and sizes the dropshipper stocks, without having to buy any or handle them yourself. When you make a sale, you purchase the item through the dropshipper, put in your customer’s address and the dropshipper packages and sends the shoes to the customer for you.
How it works: Companies want to get rid of stock because they’re closing down, or moving, or it’s the end of the season and they’re making room for their next line of stock. These products are dirt cheap, and you can buy and resell for a decent profit margin if you know what you’re looking for.
Recommended read: Find low-cost suppliers for your online business
One of the main issues with finding suppliers online is the number of scams out there. If you ever use Google searches to find suppliers, which is not recommended, be very careful.
The shoe suppliers listed below have all been checked out by SaleHoo and found to be trustworthy. When you view these suppliers in the directory, you can see important information about them: What products and brands do they sell? Do they ship internationally? Do you need a resale license/sales tax ID to do business with them? Do they have minimum order requirements, and if so, how much? How long have they been in business? All of this information is right there.
Shoe suppliers in China are known for their low prices, and they often have a massive range of products. There are a couple of great Chinese shoe supplier options here:
This China-based supplier has almost every type of shoe you can think of, and offer both wholesale and dropshipping services. They stock:
This supplier also offers wholesale shoes from China, and their range includes:
China isn’t the only country where you can buy cheap wholesale shoes in bulk. Why not check out the options in the US?
Shoe suppliers in the US:
These are only some of the options in the directory, and there are also suppliers from a whole range of other countries too. So there’s a good chance you’ll find a local supplier if you want one.
There’s a large demand for brand-name shoes, which is probably why many of the success stories at the top of this page were based on selling them. Beth Marbach said she sold high-end shoes because even if the economy goes down, rich people always have money to spend on fashion.
The brand-name shoe market can cost more to get started in though, and you can face some tough competition, so be sure to look into your market before you buy large quantities of stock.
Brand-name shoe suppliers:
This supplier has high-end men and women’s shoes (wholesale and liquidation). Some of the brands found here include:
This supplier has flip-flops, sneakers, shoes, boots and slippers (dropship). Some of the brands found here include:
Some other brand-name shoe suppliers include:
One final option is to sell secondhand shoes. Remember the woman who made a neat profit selling her used shoes? If you’re interested in this market, there are tips in that article.
You can either sell your own old shoes, or you can look through garage sales or secondhand stores to find extras if this market works for you.
There are a few options, so let’s take a quick look.
Many sellers use eBay (or other online marketplaces) to sell their goods. Here’s the ins and outs of using eBay to sell shoes:
It’s a lot easier than you might think to open your own online store these days. Let’s check out the pros and cons…
Try these marketing tips to direct people to your products.
People love YouTube videos, and often search for fashion tips and style advice. Why not showcase your shoes?
People spend forever browsing around sites like Pinterest. If you’ve got good pictures of shoes, post ‘em up and hashtag anything about your shoes that people might be looking for.
There are a couple of options to consider for advertising shoes:
It's important that you start small here: Don’t spend more than you’ve got to lose, especially if you’re new and you don’t know what works yet.
Buying and selling shoes online can be a very profitable business!
Generally it’s a good idea to:
You can choose any of these options for sourcing shoes:
Looking for cheap shoes you can buy and resell for a profit? The SaleHoo directory has over 150 trusted wholesale shoe suppliers.
When it’s time to sell, you can choose online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon, or you can open your own online store. Then you can market your shoes via YouTube, Pinterest or paid advertising.
If you’re looking for a type of shoe supplier that we haven’t listed, try asking us to find one for you in the “Supplier Wanted” section of the SaleHoo forum. All the best!