After several months in the U.S. market, Imbox Protection Inc. is making inroads with footwear retailers.
The company, which was founded in 2011 in Denmark, specializes in offering patented in-store units that quickly and safely apply an organic, water-based protective treatment to all types of footwear. The sleek boxes, which can sit on the showroom floor, feature four nozzles that spray products in an enclosed environment, aided by a scanner that ensures an even coating.
Imbox now has over 7,000 units placed in Europe and Japan — as well as the U.S., which it entered last July with its headquarters in Chicago.
The U.S. team is led by North American manager Oliver Hede. He said there are numerous advantages of the Imbox units for retailers.
First is the convenience for consumers. The entire treatment and drying process takes only 60 seconds and can be completed during the checkout process. And the cost is $7 per pair for customers, giving retailers an additional revenue opportunity.
“Most stores average around a 30% to 40% conversion rate, while some of our top-performing clients have 80% conversion rate,” said Hede. “It’s an extra service if you pitch it right.”
And he noted geographic location is not always a factor. Imbox is working with Lucky Feet Shoes in Southern California, which sells the service to about half of customers. “And that’s in a warm climate with a lot of sandals. I think a lot of people wouldn’t expect that,” said Hede.
In the U.S., the company has also placed units with Schuler Shoes in Minnesota and with Birkenstock stores in San Diego, Calif. In Europe its major clients include Deichmann Group and The Athlete’s Foot.
Imbox units are leased to retailers with no up-front costs. The company handles delivery, installation and staff training. Clients pay a monthly fee based on the total number of treatments completed. Imbox also manages replenishment for the protective fluid, which it can track from afar.
As it looks to expand in the States, Hede said his team is focused on building lasting partnerships. “This is a reoccurring business, [so we’re looking for] someone we are going to be in business with for years,” he said. “We will do most of the heavy lifting in terms of installation, training, and then let them be the experts on how to sell it. But we also need a partner that sees the value because it is a big investment for us.”
He noted that while its protective solution was originally targeted to dress shoes and boots, the company has seen rapid adoption for other footwear categories including outdoor, performance running and sandals.
“We want to build a new category, a new revenue stream, a new feature in all these retail stores,” said Hede.