Have heels had their day? How social proof messaging can help you tread the path of the consumer’s new footwear demands

The great British weather might have us slipping on the flip-flops one minute, and reluctantly reaching for the wellies the next, but one thing’s for sure, for us girls those heels have been gathering dust at the back of our wardrobes for some time now.

Footwear fashions have changed as consumers have embraced the casual look during lockdown. Even when we’re dressing up, we’ve often reverted to chunky white trainers in place of the heels or strappy, barely-there sandals of the past. (For those that struggle to show off pristinely polished toes, the latter being a godsend).

Even Crocs, the Marmite of the shoe world, have once again built a cult following, reporting a 93% revenue growth in its most recent quarter and with digital sales accounting for more than a third of that revenue.

But as life returns to normal, are there tentative steps (see what we did there) to a more well-heeled footwear trend or are we in comfies forever?

According to Vogue, comfort is still in. “Cosy, cuddly, shearling-lined shoes are still very much a look for fall”, says the style dictator. The comfort trend continues with chic slippers, chunky loafers and technical trainers, according to fashion site Whowhatwear.com. But it says 2021 autumn/winter trends are also set to include platforms, Noughties court shoes and sleek knee-high boots – heels of a sort at least.

One challenge that the lockdown highlighted was the reliance of the footwear market on the in-store experience, however. Whatever our hang-ups about how recently we’ve had a pedicure or whether our socks are clean, consumers still prefer the knowledge of right fit first time that the in-store experience brings.

As a result, the UK footwear market saw a 30% fall in sales throughout the first lockdown (April to June 2020), and a 14% overall drop over the longer-term according to Mintel’s UK Footwear Retailing Market Report 2021.

Understanding the value of review messaging to improve the online footwear experience

This makes the ability to incorporate review messaging into your online footwear display even more important since it can overcome the challenges of selling online and tempt customers away from the in-store reliance. The Mintel report highlighted that 63% of shoppers want better size advice, and 53% are put off by fiddly returns.

Social proof messaging with aggregated review data helps to address these challenges and guides the customer to buy right first time. It allows potential customers to see what other customers have thought of fit and size, understand if a particular style runs big or small and allows the customer to make a better-informed purchase that means returns are less likely.

How trending messaging can help customers get the product they want when they want it

Similarly, if your customer is still debating Converse versus Crocs, then real-time social proof trending messaging can help highlight the latest must-have styles, showing them what’s popular and selling fast.

Such messaging can also reduce purchasing indecision by helping narrow product choices. For instance, remember those white trainers that have been one of this year’s must-have styles? Well, a quick search on ASOS delivers nearly 2000 styles. Who would have thought choosing a white trainer would be so hard? 

And, for those eager to grab the styles they love in the size they need, then real-time stock information can ensure the customer isn’t disappointed, allowing them to slip on their new shoes with pride – whether that’s heels for a hedonistic night out or slippers for a snuggle on the sofa.

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