Stepping up: How social proof messaging can help you to boost online footwear sales

Alison Wiltshire

25 Aug 2021

The weather might have us slipping on slides one minute and reluctantly reaching for rain boots the next, but one thing’s for sure, for us girls those heels have been gathering dust at the back of our closets for some time now. According to NPD sales of dress footwear comprised only 8% of total fashion footwear dollar sales in 2020.

Footwear fashions have changed as consumers have embraced the casual look during lockdowns. Even when we’re dressing up, we’ve often reverted to the chunky white sneakers 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 love ‘em or hate ‘em 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.

One challenge that 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 that the in-store experience brings.

As a result, 2020 US fashion footwear sales was down 6% compared to 2019 according to the NPD Group’s US Footwear Industry Sales report partially because shoppers struggled with not being able to try shoes on for size in-store.

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

The ability to incorporate review messaging into the digital footwear shopping experience has proven successful in helping to overcome the challenges of selling shoes online – making shoppers less reliant on in-store shopping and allowing for better size advice that reduces costly returns.

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

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

Similarly, if the shopper is 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 chunky white sneakers that have been one of this year’s must-have styles? Well, a quick search on ASOS delivers nearly 400 styles. Who would have thought choosing a simple sneaker would be so hard?

And, for those eager to grab the styles they love in the size they need, urgency messaging 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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