Footwear Execs Tout Role of Technology

Technology and footwear go hand in hand.
At an FN Platform presentation hosted by the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America on Monday, executives weighed in on how they are using technology to drive business. Examples came from the retail, wholesale and manufacturing segments.
At Famous Footwear, President Rick Ausick said the Brown Shoe Co.-owned retailer actively uses a price optimization program, manages a database of 9 million active rewards customers and sends emails and texts to consumers. Within the next month, he said, the chain will launch a mobile app for its rewards customers. New touch screens soon will be added in stores to take shoppers to the Famous Footwear website. A few have been placed in test sites already.
“That’s how the customer wants to shop,” Ausick said, noting that since the addition of Mark Schmitt as chief information officer, the company has tried to engage the information technology department to do more. “We need to offer mobility. We are testing iPads in 50 stores as well.”
In addition, a few locations now offer Wi-Fi with the intention for every new store to have the service going forward.
Doug Yannucci, VP of sales and channel management for R.G. Barry Corp., said his firm has utilized several programs to help its sales team, as well as its retailers. One option is a space-planning service. “It allows us to show our retailers how to make the most productive use of space and show volume drivers,” he said. “It shows where the winners and losers are, and helped customers make key decisions with their businesses.”
Lastly, a duo from Richlife Footwear, a sourcing export company, touched on the capabilities of 3-D printing. The firm produces soles and display hangers from 3-D printers in its Seattle offices.
Jay Wailer, director of operations and design for RichLife, said that by using the technology, firms could save 10 percent in manufacturing costs and get their product 15 to 20 days faster than if they produced their footwear the traditional way.
Added Matt Brown, VP of U.S. sales for RichLife, “We are very enthusiastic about 3-D technology. You can look like a hero at your company, do things faster and save the company money.”

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