Footshop dictates the trends in online shopping from the heart of Europe

Eight hundred thousand clients, thousands of lifestyle products and 30 million in revenues. The fastest-growing seller of shoes, clothing and accessories in Central Europe is also setting the trends during the coronavirus era.

For the first time in its history, Footshop  experienced a decline in interest in its services during the emergency  situation brought on by COVID-19. "In May, the situation turned around. People started buying again. In some weeks we even reached a 60-percent year-on-year increase in sales," says Peter Hajduček, the founder and CEO of Footshop. It helped the company that 85% of their overall sales is comprised of online sales. The company did everything it could to continue working with  its suppliers in spite of the difficult situation. "Some let us cancel orders, others extended the maturity or provided allocation for exclusive merchandise," says Hajduček. However, the corona crisis ultimately allowed the firm space for development and positive change. "We sped up some projects and expanded the assortment to include new categories and brands," says Hajduček.

With art and adrenaline 

Footshop has always responded  to customer demands in a flexible way, and not only during times of crisis. It is especially tuned into the younger generation. "We understand their lifestyle, preferences and support young art, urban culture. We have social overlap. Loyal customers understand this difference and have stayed with us," states Hajduček appreciatively. The company is at the centre of streetwear culture and has formed a strong community among its members. It organises events and, thanks to its active social networks, connects hundreds of local influencers with  their fans from generations Y and Z. It has financed and supported several art projects, such as the renovation of the Hotel Kyjev façade in Bratislava. What gives Footshop a discernable edge  over the competition is the variability of its assortment and its unique relationships with manufacturers.  Relationships within the company are equally  important. Hajduček marks this  as one of Footshop's greatest successes. "It's all about people. Those who make up Footshop are able to act flexibly, in the interest of the company, and we have seen that in times of crisis they come together," he says. It is thanks in part to them that we convinced the suppliers that our region is ready for premium products and that there are customers even in Slovakia who appreciate quality. 

Footshop is the first company in the footwear segment to successfully establish its brand in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. It has locations in Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and Bucharest. According to Hajduček, the retail business, which demands a desire to learn, to operate in an unknown environment and to work with uncertainty isn't for everyone. It can give you a lot, but also take it away. "It is adrenaline that I am used to and couldn't imagine living without," he describes. The development of Footshop was particularly influenced by strategic decisions and the daily efforts of the entire team. Positive benefits resulted from expansion, sale of part of the firm in exchange for development capital, the intense fight for exclusive access to limited collections and life on social networks. "The most important thing is to keep going every day. Whether you wake up in a good mood or bad, never stray off the path and always believe in your vision," he advises.

Ace in the hole

The first investor joined the company in 2018. The Enern investment fund invested millions of euros in Footshop, which the company used to build up a strong IT team, open shops, double sales and reach interesting suppliers. "Now we are preparing another investment round with Crowdberry. We would like to use the money for expansion and development projects. More brick and mortar shops abroad are in the works. We have a few ideas for new business models built on the development of the segment through digital projects," he says. He is glad that platforms such as Crowdberry have appeared on the market. "They really want to help businesses and to develop the local business environment. Perhaps we will get interesting ambassadors and people with experience from various fields," he adds. 

Investors see Footshop as a team of professionals that have set up standardised processes and manage their risks. "On the other hand, we are cool kids doing fashion, as one of my colleagues said. I think the investors have understood just how good the cards are we hold in our hand," explains Hajduček. "We have worked hard at it, and so we are closer to the customers than any foreign competitor," he added. From a European perspective, Footshop has a wonderful geographic position. "We are in the heart of Europe. We can expand geographically in every direction with a quality service at a reasonable price," he says. Footshop is also attractive for the shift from shopping centres to the digital world. Other goals are embellishing the loyalty programme, web personalisation and a lot of new digital projects. They announce the connection to the sale from the stock of large brands. 

Footshop provides support in 15 languages through an experienced team, where a clear organisational structure applies. The management team combines experience from e-commerce with the internal support of 40 marketing specialists and 30 IT experts. The team is completed with external consultants from the business environment.
Footshop also considers itself to be an IT company that knows that the future belongs to technical innovations. "We want to provide a quality service and a unique experience from online or offline shopping," he says. The fact that 31% of our customers repeatedly return to Footshop, to buy where trends are set, shows that the company knows what its customers want.

The article was written for an investment and business series of the economic daily paper Hospodárske noviny, author: Lucia Páchniková - https://hnonline.sk/pr-clanky/2160818-footshop-zo-srdca-europy-diktuje-trendy-online-nakupu

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