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How to sell shoes online (feat. exclusive tips from eBay)

how to sell shoes online

If you’re an entrepreneur in search of new eCommerce business ideas, inspiration is right at your feet—literally.

Shoe sales are booming online, with innovative outlets and business models engaging consumers of all ages. Globally, online shoe sales are forecasted to grow 6.8% through 2028, climbing to more than $150 billion in sales, according to Grandview Research.

Not to mention that the second-hand sneaker market alone is valued at $2 billion. Yes, that’s with a B, says Garry Thaniel, GM of Sneakers at eBay.

“Rare, highly coveted sneakers in new and pre-owned condition continue to appreciate over time, making them a great option to diversify your investments,” says Thaniel, speaking on the growing popularity of reselling shoes on eBay’s marketplace.

Keep reading for tips on how to start a business in footwear, plus insights directly from our partners at eBay. Whether you’re looking to launch a new retail brand or develop a profitable side hustle, there are several essential steps you must take to ensure a successful journey into business ideas like these.

This guide will cover:

How to source shoes to sell

First, choose the right stock to sell. You can source shoes from a single provider or from multiple sources to expand the breadth of your offering. Each product sourcing method has its own potential benefits:

  • Resell. Second-hand footwear goes far beyond getting rid of old shoes from the back of your closet. As limited-edition designs are snapped up and resold on sites such as eBay, sneaker resales are white-hot. Second-hand haute couture and vintage looks are additionally popular among fashionistas. (“Rare, all-original pairs in ‘deadstock’ condition—those that have not been worn—tend to be the most reliable investments,” notes Thaniel.)

  • Create new branded shoes. This option gives you ultimate control over product quality and design, which is especially important if you plan on offering high-end, artisanal, or even made-to-measure shoes. The trade-off is that you’ll have to invest significant time and money into sourcing the right materials, developing your products, and quality testing in addition to marketing and selling them.

  • Buy from a wholesaler or manufacturer. Buying in bulk from a wholesaler or manufacturer allows you to get your store up and running quickly. Pick from ready-made shoes and curate a large collection of styles early on. That said, you’ll have to have enough budget to invest in new inventory upfront since many suppliers will have order minimums.

  • Dropship or leverage print on demand (POD). Under the dropshipping model, your suppliers handle manufacturing/sourcing, warehousing, and fulfillment for you. You only pay for what you successfully sell. Some dropshippers offer print on demand capabilities, too, enabling you to print custom designs on products. These options are popular with consumers, 29% of whom have bought customized apparel or footwear, according to eMarketer.

Where to sell shoes online

Once you’ve sourced products, the next step is to choose where to sell them. Select outlets that best suit the type of shoes you plan to sell and already appeal to your target audience.

Online store

Even if you’re just starting out, it’s always a good idea to create an online store that serves as the flagship destination for your brand. A website gives you total control over your branding, data, and customer experience—and with a solution like Wix’s eCommerce website builder, it’s easy to get started.

shoe listings on Wix merchant's website
Shoes sold by Evolve clothing gallery, an innovator menswear boutique and Wix merchant.

Pick from hundreds of professionally made store templates. Easily upload your products and customize everything from your product collections and mobile store, to your shipping policies and payment options. With Wix eCommerce, you can additionally access native marketing tools, dropshipping integrations, and multichannel sales automation to take your business to the next level.

Online marketplaces

There are various online marketplaces that can put your products in front of sneakerheads and shoppers that are specifically on the hunt for new shoes.

No two marketplaces are alike so it’s important to understand their differences. Moreover, you’ll want to understand what makes shoppers tick on each platform, plus the rules of engagement. Make sure to remain compliant with marketplace guidelines, while taking advantage of everything that they have to offer.

Top destinations include:

  • For all types of new, pre-owned, and collectible shoes: eBay. Shoes are among one of the most popular categories on eBay, where 15 pairs of sneakers are sold every minute, according to Thaniel. “With trusted services like Authenticity Guarantee, low seller fees, eBay 3D true view, and money back guarantee, eBay gives shoppers confidence with every sneaker purchase,” says Thaniel. For Wix Merchants, eBay is a native sales channel, enabling quick onboarding, automated product feeds, and other time-saving perks.

eBay listings for shoes

  • For collectible sneakers: StockX and GOAT. The sneakerhead subculture has spawned a number of niche sites for reselling limited-edition designs. Authentication practices and seller fees vary widely, so make sure to do your research.

  • For haute couture resale: TheRealReal and Vestiaire Collective. These high-end sites attract entry-level fashionistas who don’t want to pay top dollar for luxury goods and/or want to support sustainable retail. Through these sites, you can showcase deals on second-hand footwear and fashion, and have your items authenticated prior to resale.

  • For resale of brand-name favorites: Poshmark and Depop. While designer labels can be found on these marketplaces, they also feature well-known mid-range brands of all types of footwear, such as Keen sandals and Stride Rite shoes for kids.

  • For new merchandise: Amazon. Amazon’s massive customer base is enticing for sellers, but competition is stiff. Amazon enforces strict rules for sellers to follow, e.g., all footwear sold on Amazon must be new (although upcycled shoes are allowed for Handmade sellers) and meet Amazon’s listing requirements, including how shoe sizes are displayed.

Social media

Growing numbers of consumers are finding shopping inspiration on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even TikTok. To complement this trend, social commerce tools are making it easier and easier for buyers to complete transactions right from their feeds.

With all this in mind, it’s important for your business to consider which social channels support the right formats and audiences for your products. Here are a couple of standouts:

  • For all types of new, resale, and collector shoes: Instagram Shopping. Instagram is all about visuals, so it’s no surprise that shoe enthusiasts flock to the channel to browse and buy footwear. The shoes hashtag currently has more than 120 million results, sneakerhead has 25 million, and highheels boasts 12 million. By tapping into Instagram Shopping, you can allow users to buy your shoes directly off Instagram, whether they discover your products in a photo, reel, live stream, or elsewhere on the channel.

sneakerhead hashtag on Instagram

  • For cutting-edge brands, from casual to couture: TikTok. Brands ranging from Vans to Jimmy Choo are reaching a new generation of consumers via this short-form video platform. TikTok offers wide exposure (especially among Gen Zers), with some luxury brands (like Gucci) racking up millions of followers and driving traffic to their sites through TikTok ads.

How to price shoes for sale

Managing multiple sales channels at once inevitably adds complexity to your product pricing strategy. Beyond ensuring that your prices cover all of your costs of operating your business, you must ask yourself, what margin will the market support? How do competitors’ pricing compare for new and used merchandise? How will the prices you set affect visibility on key channels?

Here are several factors that will help you get to the right price:

  • Total costs of sourcing, production, and fulfillment. Be sure to consider the time you invest into your shoe business as well as concrete costs, like materials and shipping fees. If you spend hours scouring markets for vintage shoes or customizing sneakers to order, factor that into labor costs.

  • Discounting versus prestige. If your brand specializes in hard-to-find or hand-crafted shoes, buyers may be more tolerant of higher prices. On the contrary, if you’re selling popular shoe models and brands that are widely available elsewhere, you’ll likely have to offer more competitive rates, though it may come at the cost of your margins.

  • Your competition. Pay attention to other sellers’ tactics. Your prices should seem fair when compared to the market. (“Items are more likely to sell if they’re priced fairly in comparison to other listings of the same sneaker style or colorway,” notes Thaniel.) If they’re much higher, you may leave money on the table unless you can provide value through other perks like exclusive access, free shipping, and exceptional customer service. If you consistently undercut the competition, consider whether there are hidden costs that you’re not factoring in or any unintended consequences, e.g., consumers being suspicious of the authenticity or quality of your shoes.

  • Marketplace rules. Price can affect your visibility on third-party marketplaces, which are more inclined to display the most attractive deals to keep their users coming back. Many channels additionally enforce price parity rules and use price to help determine buy box winners (on Amazon alone, 82% to 90% of sales go through the Buy Box). So, familiarize yourself with marketplace guidelines and incrementally test your prices.

Bonus: how to grow your shoe business online (exclusive tips from eBay)

As with any business venture, running a successful shoe business requires lots of trial and error. There are endless lessons to be learned.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go at it alone. With a track record of success in the shoe industry, eBay has gathered valuable insights and best practices for shoe sellers.

“Sellers are the backbone of what we do at eBay, and we have seen some inspiring and amazing success stories on our platform," says Thaniel.

“The top sellers on our marketplace consistently exceed buyer expectations by providing the inventory that shoppers are looking for,” he further shares, “along with strong buyer experiences, such as fast shipping and transparent communication where needed.”

More specifically, Thaniel and his team recommends taking the following steps:

  • Keep your eyes peeled for popular collaborations. “One major trend we’re seeing is an increase in luxury and streetwear brand collaborations with classic sneaker brands. Partnerships that see big brands like New Balance and Nike team up with luxury designers command headlines and generate tremendous value and demand,” says Thaniel. “For example, New Balance’s ongoing partnership with Aime Leon Dore, a rising luxury streetwear brand based out of New York, caused a 590% search increase for New Balance on eBay.” If you’re looking to resell shoes, keep an eye out for these in-demand collabs and beef your store up with popular inventory.

  • Cater product selection to the WFH set. While some audiences may be on the hunt for dress-up heels now that in-person events are back on the rise, casual wear still rules the day. Sales of backless footwear—such as slides and clogs—are surging. Overall, clogs are on track for a 183% sales spike by the end of this year, eBay reports. Even if your brand focuses on snappy professional looks or formalwear, you can incorporate flats and dressed-up loafers as a nod to comfort.

  • Be responsive and honest about what you’re selling. When buyers enjoy their experience with a seller, they’re more likely to purchase from that seller again. eBay has programs in place to protect buyers from dishonest or fraudulent listings like Authenticity Guarantee and Money-Back Guarantee services. Wherever you decide to sell shoes, obtain third-party authentication for resale items or new merchandise from popular brands. Describe and promote your verification process on your eCommerce site. Back up this quality guarantee with stellar service, i.e., as you launch new sales channels or products, ensure that your customer service team is sized right to support swift responses.

  • Mint condition matters for resale, right down to the box. Deadstock items with original labels and boxes are often more valuable and attractive to buyers. Shoes that have been pre-worn should be cleaned and polished. You should also make repairs as needed to heels or soles. Replace frayed laces or worn-out elastic straps before listing.

  • Photos are worth a thousand words, so make them count. Whether merchandise is new, collectible, vintage, or pre-worn, use a photo array to picture items from every angle. That way, buyers can ascertain the quality of materials and the condition of second-hand items. With a little planning and time, you can use basic equipment to take professional-looking product photos that will enhance your listings and encourage sales.

Shoes shine online. Join the movement today.

Launching an online footwear business means joining a thriving, competitive market. By establishing a strong online presence through multiple touchpoints and strategies, you can engage new audiences, earn sales, and build a loyal following.

Start selling shoes with Wix and eBay today. Sign up now.

Geraldine Feehily

Allison Lee

Editor, Wix eCommerce

Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.

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