Inside Shoe Carnival’s Playbook for Success

While many retailers are grappling with uneven business performance, Shoe Carnival continues to ride high.

The family retailer, which counts 395 stores, saw comp store sales rise 4.% in the fourth quarter.

CEO Cliff Sifford sat down with FDRA president and CEO Matt Priest at the FN Summit on Monday to talk about Shoe Carnival’s strategy for success.

Staying close to consumers: “We have what we consider a world-class [custom relationship management] program. We want to find out exactly who our customer is, what motivates them, why else they come to Shoe Carnival and where else they shop.”

The power of experience: “We’ve been an experience for 40 years. We have a guy or a woman there with a microphone, and they have a list of promotions. The whole idea is that if you’re there in our store, you’re there to buy a pair of shoes. Our job is to sell you two or three pairs.”

Investing in digital: “Six years, we didn’t have an e-commerce business. We celebrated that the e-store stayed up all day. We started investing a lot of money into it and started seeing incredible growth about four years ago. This past year, we did 7%. Our goal is to get up to 12% in the next two years.”

Lifts from the tax cut and low unemployment: “Once the tax cuts took affect, we saw our business uptick, and it’s stayed like that. We’re seeing low unemployment, and I can’t think of anything better for our businesses.”

Trade talk: “I keep going back to that unemployment number [being so low] and what’s going on with trade. We haven’t seen that impact at all. We’re already paying high tariffs on shoes. I don’t think there’s any export category that pays higher tariffs.”

Watch FN’s video with Toms founder Blake Mycoskie here:

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