Every footwear brand wants to nail direct-to-consumer.
In general, higher profit margins and a greater control over brand distribution makes DTC important for brands of all sizes. It’s part of the reason brands like Nike, Adidas and Crocs are nixing partnerships with different wholesalers to focus on key accounts and direct-to-consumer channels.
As e-commerce continues to grow, digitally focused footwear brands are seeing returns in web traffic. Similarweb, which analyzes web traffic data, highlighted the 25 fastest-growing DTC footwear brands, according to web traffic. The list ranks the brands according to quarter-over-quarter website traffic growth and is limited to websites with at least 10,000 monthly visitors.
Footwear brands and retailers on the list included Vivaia, Gaziano & Girling, Grenson, Grant Stone, Groundies, and Drew’s Boots and more. Altogether, the top 25 fastest-growing DTC footwear sites saw a 64% bump in total traffic in Q3 of 2021 compared to the same period last year.
The data demonstrated that smaller digitally-focused footwear brands are winning over consumers, even as legacy brands adapt to shifting trends. While larger brands grew over the quarter, they did not exhibit the same percentage of growth because of their scale. For example, nike.com had 51 million monthly visitors in Q3, but traffic only grew 9.2% from Q2.
Sustainable footwear brand Vivaia was the fastest-growing brand on the list, with a 138.7% increase in traffic since Q2, with 30,000 additional desktop visits. The traffic channels that saw the most growth in driving traffic to the site were paid search, organic search, referrals, email, and display ads.
“In this quarter’s fastest growing report it’s exciting to see a brand focused on sustainability top the list in both growth and size,” said Jamie Drayton, senior industry manager at Similarweb. “Vivaia advertises comfortable and sleek women’s shoes that have the added bonus of sustainable production. We also see the ever present impact of seasonality as consumers buy boots in preparation for colder weather.”
While DTC channels are becoming increasingly important to all footwear brands, a recent report from BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel claimed that DTC channels will often offer retailers lower profit margins than wholesale channels before taxes and interest. The report pointed out an inverse relationship between DTC penetration and reported revenues in retail companies surveyed over the last five years. In other words, companies that had a decline in DTC penetration also saw meaningful sales growth. The opposite was true as well.
Nevertheless, DTC channels still offer companies a higher level of control over brand image, distribution and pricing. According to Siegel, these benefits are “perhaps reason enough to pivot from wholesale to DTC,” margins aside.