The footwear industry is worth over $52 billion, which means people are buying a heck of a lot of shoes, but shoes are sort of expensive, at least for consumers. Ever wonder how your favorite retailers manage to flip a profit on footwear? It’s because they’re buying in bulk. Purchasing wholesale shoes for resale is just about how every major shoe retailer operates if they’re not manufacturing their own goods. If you want to grab a piece of that $52 billion pie, it’s not very difficult to buy designer shoes wholesale. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.
Why Buy Bulk Shoes in the First Place?
Think about some of your favorite stores that sell shoes: Foot Locker, Asos, Urban Outfitters, etc. Odds are that these retailers operate in one of two ways – they either import or manufacture their goods in another country where labor is cheap or negotiate wholesale deals with manufacturers or designers. So, which is better? It really depends on your outlook.
Take Topshop’s Ivy Park scandal, for example. In 2016, the brand came under fire when an article in "The Sun" claimed the company manufactured their goods in a factory that paid Sri Lankan workers just $0.64 an hour. The ethics are wholly debatable, though it’s clearly a pittance compared to the United States’ $7.25-per-hour federal minimum wage. Ivy Park claimed they have a “rigorous ethical trading programme,” but Sri Lanka’s yearly minimum wage is only around $1,600. That means any clothing or accessories made in the country are legally cheaper; however, many people would argue that wage still exploits foreign workers.
If you buy designer shoes wholesale, it can be a whole lot more ethical than saving money by manufacturing in a developing nation – especially if you’re working with designers or cobblers who make their own products in-house. You get a cheaper rate for the bulk shoes, but you also make a commitment to the designer that you’ll be purchasing a larger amount. It’s a win-win.
Start With a Search for a Wholesale Shoe Retailer
In the age of the Internet, you can pretty much get anything online. Major wholesaler websites like Alibaba, DHGate or Amazon Business offer entire marketplaces filled with bulk shoes, but you do need to be wary of quality. This is not the same thing as when you buy designer shoes wholesale. Foreign wholesale websites notoriously offer poorly made items, but that's not necessarily and end-all of a business.
If you’re importing cheap shoes from a foreign website like Wish or Alibaba, you shouldn’t be going for a luxury feel or you’re going to be disappointed (and so will your customers). Stick to fast-fashion trends – styles customers will buy more frequently but throw away after a season or two – rather than classic, designer staples. This way, people don’t mind if the quality isn’t there as long as they can try new trends without breaking their budget.
Of course, foreign factories do exist that make high-quality, designer shoes. For example, Louboutins are made it Italy and about as luxe as you can get, but you can bet that production isn't cheap.
Contact Designers Directly
The best way to buy wholesale shoes for resale and maintain a luxury quality is to cut deals directly with designers. If designers can get a commitment to a larger number of sales, they’re pretty likely to give you a discount that allows you to make a decent resale profit. The benefits of going direct are that you’re not really rolling the dice on quality with foreign manufacturers who are working in factories that have varying levels of quality and competence. You can vet the quality yourself, which means you can go for more classic styles and charge a higher premium.
Ask for Overstock Items
Another great way to buy wholesale shoes for resale is to contact local shoe stores and retailers asking to purchase their overstock items at a cheaper price. Sure, this means that maybe the items might not exactly be the trendiest but they could work for your business’ demographics. What’s one store’s sale item is another store’s hot ticket. This also works particularly well if you’re buying, say, winter boots in the middle of July or flip flops in the middle of February. If a shop is having trouble selling a particular style, they’ll be likely to unload it to you for a way cheaper price, so keep the seasons in mind.
- Be aggressive but polite when trying to haggle for a better price.
- Don't be afraid to ask store owners or managers for an extra discount on cash purchases.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.