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A Simple Guide to Starting an Online Shoe Store

8 min read

One of the first keys to success when starting an online store is picking an item in high demand. This means that shoes are automatically near the top of any list of the best items to sell online. But that is not just because they’re a high-demand item. Another benefit of shoes for retailers is the immense range of styles they come in. There are shoes for every occasion and vocation. This is something that retailers can easily take advantage of when searching for a niche market.

According to one study, Americans buy an average of 7.5 pairs of shoes per year. With that constant demand cycle, there is never a bad time to start selling shoes. Want to break into the market with your own online business? Here is everything you should know about starting an online shoe store.

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Why Starting a Shoe Store is a Good Idea

As mentioned, there are several notable advantages to selling shoes online. Understanding what makes shoes so valuable to retailers can help entrepreneurs when strategizing and creating their business plans.

Lightweight and Durable

One of the unique struggles of running an online retail business is shipping and storage. Retailers need to keep their inventory stored somewhere prior to being sold. In many cases, the logistics of this can be quite difficult, especially for large and heavy items. But shoes are relatively small and easy to keep in storage. This also helps when it comes time to fulfill orders. Shoes are not expensive to ship and are also durable. This means there is a low risk of damage during shipping.

Extensive Variety

A common word of advice for online retailers is to find a lucrative niche. Shoes offer more potential than most products in this area. As mentioned above, most people own several pairs of shoes. At the very least, most people own a pair of work shoes and dress shoes. However, many people own even more pairs of shoes than that. This means that online retailers can always find a type of shoe that will sell well for them with relatively low market competition.

Always In Demand

One last reason why shoes are such a great item to sell is that they never go out of style. Most shoes only last a year or a couple of years before needing to be replaced. This means people are regularly in the market for a new pair of shoes. Therefore, there is never an off-season when it comes to selling shoes.

How to Start a Shoe Business Online: Choosing Your Niche

As mentioned, it can be helpful to find a niche when selling anything online. Shoes offer more potential than most items due to the high variety of styles. Shoe wholesalers can get away with specializing in all types of shoes. But if you’re starting an online shoe business from scratch, it helps to start small. Focusing on a few types of shoes, and catering to a few key demographics, is a more viable strategy.

For instance, you might choose to focus on selling high-quality dress shoes or athletic shoes. When researching your niche, you should consider a few things. The first factor to look at is market competition. You should seek out a niche that has relatively low competition, giving you a greater market share.

Combined with low market competition, you should also find a niche with relatively high demand. This ensures that you will have a stable base of consumers who will buy your products.

A third factor to consider is your own interests. This is not always essential, but it can help a lot if you sell a product about which you are passionate. Additionally, it can help establish you as an authority in your market and also makes your work more enjoyable.

Once you have found your niche, your next step is to focus on your target demographic and how to reach them. What types of consumers belong to your niche? And what are the best channels to reach them?

Choosing a Supplier and Business Model

Starting a shoe store online also means figuring out how to obtain and supply shoes. There are a couple of different primary business models when it comes to selling shoes online: dropshipping and wholesale.


Dropshipping is a business model where an online retailer acts as a middleman between a product’s manufacturer and the end consumer. In a dropshipping arrangement, you agree to list products for sale on your website. But you do not actually supply the product to the customer. Instead, you facilitate their transaction, while the dropshipper handles everything else (manufacturing, storage, and order fulfillment).

The advantages of this model are its low overhead cost and minimal time investment. However, you will have less control over product quality and customer service in this model.


An alternative to dropshipping is buying products in bulk from a wholesaler that you can then resell on your website. This model gives the retailer (you) greater control over most aspects of your business. You will be responsible for item storage and shipment, but this also means you are not reliant on somebody else for customer service. Plus, you also have much greater control over your own supply chain, as you will always feel confident about what items are in stock.

The disadvantage of a wholesale model, compared to dropshipping, is that it requires a greater investment. But the tradeoff is a bigger potential reward.

Starting an Online Shoe Store: Building Your Website

The last step to starting a shoe store online is creating your website. The simplest way to do this for people without much tech experience is to use an ecommerce platform. Ecommerce platforms, like Ecwid, supply entrepreneurs with all of the tools, resources, and guidance they need to start their businesses. This includes tools to build and customize your website exactly how you want it. Ecwid also makes it easy to add things like easy payment and checkout options to your website for a smoother user experience.

Want to learn more about the basics of building your online store? Read our guide to starting an online store without a budget for more detailed tips and instructions.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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