How This Quirky Shoe Brand Used Amazon Marketplace to Build a US Business

When Venezuelan shoe company Hot Chocolate Design began to explore a plan to expand internationally, the U.S. was an obvious goal. But this huge and crowded market has high barriers to entry, particularly when it comes to wholesaling.

However, the brand identified a big opportunity in e-commerce, according Fernando Aguerrevere, CEO and partner at Hot Chocolate. “We realized that [Amazon Marketplace] was the perfect way to enter the U.S.,” he said. “Not only could we leverage its e-commerce strength, but also its logistics services for shipping and returns.”

Since launching on the digital platform in 2013, the firm has doubled its revenue every year, and now receives roughly 70 percent of its sales from Amazon.

Hot Chocolate was founded in 2004 in Caracas, by Pablo Martínez and Carolina Aguerrevere, two advertising execs who were looking for a more-creative outlet. Their footwear designs for women and girls certainly fit the bill — they are known for a cute and quirky sensibility. Think themed Mary Jane heels and flats decorated with printed designs such as eggs and bacon, playing cards, tattoos and unicorns.

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate founders Carolina Aguerrevere and Pablo Martínez
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand
Hot Chocolate
Geometric Mary Janes by Hot Chocolate
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

But eye-catching designs are not enough to guarantee success on Amazon Marketplace. Here, Fernando Aguerrevere shares some of his tips for making the most of the e-commerce platform:

1. Understand the Algorithm
“Your product won’t sell just by listing it. You have to do more than that — you have to study how the ranking algorithm works. This is like a full-time job.”

2. Presentation Matters 
“You have to have great photos, clear titles and listings with lots of information. Also pricing is key: Find the balance between what the customer is willing to pay and profitability for your business.”

3. Pay Attention to Reviews
“These are important both for the buyer and seller. If you have a product that’s not good, it’s not going to sell.”

4. Use the Promotions
“Take advantage of all the promotional tools that are available on the site. The Amazon customer loves a good deal.”

5. Manage Inventory Wisely
“Plan ahead to avoid running out of stock. It can be difficult to estimate demand, especially if you have a long lead time.”

Check out some of the brand’s shoe styles, available now on Amazon Marketplace:

Hot Chocolate shoes
Hot Chocolate Mary Jane with tattoo design
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand
Hot Chocolate shoes
Hot Chocolate Mary Jane with eggs and bacon design
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand
Hot Chocolate shoes
Hot Chocolate Mary Jane with cherry print
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand


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