A good accessory is an investment, especially when it comes to footwear, and that investment deserves the best shoe protection treatment to ensure long-lasting wear. You’re purchasing an item you hope to wear again and again, after all.
But what is the best way to protect a new pair of boots against the elements? While waterproof sprays are widely available, many at-home treatments aren’t sustainable and can be harmful when used indoors.
Across Europe, the answer to keeping shoes in pristine shape is a quick trip to the nearest footwear retailer, like The Athletes Foot, Deichmann or Intersport, where consumers can find a truly sustainable option for shoe protection called IMBOX. IMBOX Protection is a Denmark-based technology company providing in-store footwear protection that’s also environmentally friendly solution.
With over 27 million treatments every year across 6,500 stores, the company is now expanding into the U.S. and aims to “create a new niche category for the ambitious shoe retailer to better serve the consumer sustainably through our globally patented technology,” said Oliver Hede, North American manager of IMBOX Protection.
The footwear treatment itself takes place in a closed chamber with heating elements which allow for added functionality – including UV protection, waterproofing and stain resistance. The box features a spinning top display, a large 24-inch screen that shows captivating videos and a live feed from inside the machine when a treatment is taking place. Once the retail customer has agreed to purchase an IMBOX protection for their shoes, the store associate will place the footwear inside the machine, close the door, and select the treatment type. The treatment will take approximately 60 seconds. Once completed, the consumer can slip right into their newly purchased shoes, equipped with convenient, sustainable protection for all seasons and occasions.
“Our mission is to create a better world of footwear protection that is safe for people and the planet, while also providing a growth driver and competitive advantage to our retail partners. We will continue to push towards sustainability through our ever-evolving technology,” said Hede.
IMBOX has made its mark as the trusted professional, all-seasons footwear protection technology and in-store service that gives retailers a new revenue stream, helps increase basket size and foot traffic and assists retailers in selling more accessories.
“IMBOX has been able to optimize the product and business model,” agreed Jan Deding, Chief Executive Officer of IMBOX Protection, North America. “This has led to an IMBOX concept that is highly beneficial for the retailer and IMBOX, while providing the end-user with an extra level of service and the best possible protection of their new and existing shoes, whether they are dress shoes, sneakers, sports shoes, hiking shoes, party or leisure shoes.”
For the consumer, it is a convenient, affordable and environmentally friendly way to protect your shoes all year. Do you want to protect your shoes from rain, or dust before going to Burning Man or Coachella? Or from hotdog ketchup spills at a baseball game? IMBOX protects against it all.
“We got an IMBOX at the end of November 2017 and this has proven to be a great addition to our shop that gives our customers a better service as well as additional income for us,” said Jon Valli of Intersport. “The IMBOX shoe protection makes sense for every kind of shoes, no matter if sneaker, trekking or running shoes. Ever since we have offered the IMBOX service to every shoe customer, sales have gone up. In our first month alone we sold more than 600 treatments –fantastic additional sales.”
For the retailer, IMBOX’s benefits are many: adding a revenue stream, increasing purchases, and contributing to higher revenue and profits. Plus, it’s an easy sell to consumers – just one extra minute can ensure the life of their purchase.
“The IMBOX is obviously a significant additional revenue,” said François Lemaire, manager at Chaussexpo Masny. “This new tool breathes new life into our store! Our customers are starting to come back to the store to put their shoes in the IMBOX again, they take a quick tour of the store and we are making extra revenue. This is positive for us and for our customers who find it practical that the IMBOX Treatment is done in-store and are satisfied with the reliability of this product over time.”
While 60 seconds may not seem like a lot of time, Hede told Footwear News that minute has proven a valuable amount of time for the salesperson to connect with the customer. “This can be used to ask about their day, upsell accessories or educate the consumer on when they can, or should, use a top-up spray or return to the store for a new treatment,” said Hede.
According to IMBOX’s data, current retail partners have experienced an uptick in accessory sales of up to 50 percent due to bonus time to upsell waiting shoppers. Data shows IMBOX users have a 12 percent store return rate for re-IMBOXing.
“Retailers can also offer consumers who’ve purchased their shoes online a voucher to then bring the shoes into the store. Many of our partners have experienced strong omnichannel results as a result,” said Deding.
“We consider ourselves friends and partners of retailers and our European partners can attest to that,” said Hede. “Most retail partners quickly realize that IMBOX is the simplest way to give their stores a new life with a new significant revenue stream and positive cash flow from day one, without cannibalizing other product categories.”
“IMBOX is a convenient and easy in-store service,” said Danny Bergin, sales manager at Wynsors. “We have experienced a significantly higher conversion rate with IMBOX than expected, with customers saying yes to having their shoes protected. IMBOX has truly added a completely new revenue stream to Wynsors without decreasing sales in other product categories.”
To prove the concept and business case to new partners in the U.S. market, the company is offering a risk-free trial for 8 weeks.
Additionally, Deding said, IMBOX Protection has put a great deal behind its relationships in the North American market. The company understands local requirements and is adjusting to U.S. needs while maintaining a global perspective.
“The most common knowledge U.S. consumers have regarding shoe treatments is that you spray your shoes for waterproofing, or you spray your dress shoes because they often are more expensive and must look nice for special occasions,” said Hede. “In Europe, the number of IMBOX treatments sold is around 40 percent of the number of shoes sold, but conversion rates easily run to 80 percent, if the customer is asked.”
All of IMBOX’s retail partners can create specific, realistic business cases and goals based on unique store numbers. To get started, IMBOX Protection offers a convenient form on its website to help calculate the number of treatments they can sell.
“We know consumers appreciate a convenient and sustainable in-store service experience that can protect their newly purchased shoes,” said Deding. “But it’s not only the technology that sets us apart in the market, it’s also our business model. IMBOX Protection is responsible for installing the unit, servicing it, delivering new fluid, training personnel in-store or through our online training concept and more. We’ll help our partners have positive cash flow from day one of implementation.”