New sites emerge daily on the Internet. Conversely, countless sites fail. The result of this continuing shakeout is that one site often comes to dominate its category. For auction sites, there is eBay; for classifieds: Craig's List; for search engines: Google; for wholesale shoes, there is Shoenet.com. Said David Mizhrahi, Director of shoenet.com, "We have been around for so long that more people Google for 'shoenet' than for 'wholesale shoes'."
This is not surprising, considering the history of the company and the volume in which they buy. The founders of shoenet.com have been very successful in the wholesale import export shoe business since the early 1980s. In 1995, they shifted their entire business to the Internet. "We are the most successful and the largest online, probably because we were the first," said Mizrahi. "Anyone who wants to buy wholesale shoes and has access to the Internet finds their way to us. If you type in wholesale shoes, we will be the first organic result."
Shoenet.com carries about 1,000 styles, but the product turnover is rapid. Each day styles sell out, and new ones are added. 'Just Photographed', one of the categories, is updated hourly with new arrivals. "Everything that comes in goes into that section, and stays there for about five to seven days before going into its regular category," said Mizrahi. "We have a lot of users who check our site every day because so much of the inventory sells out very quickly. Styles go on the site and are often sold out within a day, or even a few hours."
Another category is Best Sellers, consisting of the top ten best sellers tallied by unique orders sold the previous week. "If one customer bought 100 cases of that one shoe, that would be only one order. It gives you a statistic unbiased by huge orders," Mizrahi said, "And huge orders are very common for us."
Smaller orders are common as well, however, since they have a diverse client base. Shoenet.com's customers range from major chain stores all the way to eBay and flea market sellers. The "Wholesale Overstock Shoes Pallets" category was developed specifically for flea marketers. Said Mizrahi, "We are trying to be dynamic and flexible to meet different demands. More and more flea marketers are purchasing our overstock lots and are doing very well with them."
Another example of shoenet.com's desire to meet different demands is their recent addition of Wholesale Brand Name Overstock lots, a category barely three months old. "Everything pictured is available stock. If you make a purchase, you get those exact styles. These sell in Bloomingdales or Macy's for $150 to $200, and we are offering them between $15 and $25 wholesale. They are all authentic and originals." Mizrahi said this section will evolve extensively soon to 20 or 30 brands, and eventually to thousands of products.
Thirty years of developing contacts in the shoe industry makes for some serious buying power. "When we move into a product, we buy all the available stock. That is what allows us to get such low prices," said Mizrahi. "When a major importer overshoots on a product or has cancellations, we clear him out of excess inventory and offer it online to retailers. We have significant presence in the domestic American wholesale shoe market. People know us."
Since shoenet.com purchases at such huge discounts, they can pass the savings on. As Mizrahi said, "Small boutiques could never come close to such pricing on their own. They would have to buy 100 cases to get this price. Since we buy 1,000 cases, we can offer it to our clients and they can buy one or two cases, enjoy the same discount and make a nice profit." Considering there is a recommended mark up of 300 percent, there are certainly nice profits to be made.
Shoenet.com even has its own line called Noel Collection, designed in-house and sold exclusively on their website. They also have retail stores in New York City. Although these are only a small part of their operations, they give shoenet.com first hand insight into retail store operations. This adds to the expertise they provide to their customers, including instances when a customer wants to open a store.
"We help them determine how much square footage they'll need, how much investment they should have, what products and how much they should purchase and for what season they should stock," said Mizrahi. "We help with large and small decisions, provide recommendations, and offer large discounts to new shop owners to help them get started, because they usually purchase more than regular buyers." If the retailer is online, they provide access to product descriptions and images free of charge. "Either way," said Mizrahi, "we have a dedicated sales team helping customers all day."
Shoenet.com has additional categories such as Deal A Day, Free Shipping and a very comprehensive F.A.Q. page. There is "News on Shoes" with the latest shoe styles and fashion trends news. There are also contact numbers for buyers in Australia, the UK, Argentina and Columbia. Since shoenet.com does such volume in those countries, these numbers put buyers in touch with representatives who know the shipping rates, tax laws and customs for their country.
As user-friendly as their website is, soon it will be even more so. Within the next two months it will be completely interactive. Customers will be able to see such information as their buying history, at what stage their order is, and if they have been charged. They have access to shoenet.com's purchasing trends to make more informed buying decisions. Inventory will be in real time. "It is going to make all aspects transparent to the client, so they can see where everything is, just by logging in and looking," said Mizrahi.
Shoenet.com wants to make wholesale shoes purchasing easier than it has been in the past. Their plan is to continue to make buying more effective and economical for wholesale buyers, eliminating a buyer's need to attend shows regularly or purchase from outdated catalogs. "We are taking the entire shoe industry and giving it the newest, freshest merchandise. Our goal is to offer as much product and as much variety as possible, and to pass the value on," Mizrahi said. "We buy aggressively; we try to get the best prices possible in America, and we pass that on to customers so they can make money." Minimum order is $250.
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