Start-ups can learn from Athlete’s Foot

Start-up retailers have been urged to learn from The Athlete’s Foot and Williams the Shoemen, which are leading the way in shoe store satisfaction, according to a new study.


According to the latest Roy Morgan Retail Satisfaction report, 91% of customers are satisfied or very satisfied with The Athlete’s Foot, and 90% are satisfied or very satisfied with Williams. The figures are well above the 85% average for shoe stores.


The report reveals 83% of customers are satisfied with Spendless Shoes, followed by 82% for Payless Shoes, 81% for Betts and Betts Kids, and 75% for Mathers.


Norman Morris, Roy Morgan industry communications director, says Williams is catching up to The Athlete’s Foot, which regularly performs well.


“Despite an impressive five percentage point uplift in customer satisfaction in the September quarter, Williams the Shoemen still ranks behind The Athlete’s Foot by one percentage point, the closest any of the shoe stores have been to The Athlete’s Foot in more than a year,” Morris says.


“Over the last 12 months, there have been some major changes in shoe store customer satisfaction. A year ago, the six shoe stores measured were only separated by less than two percentage points, whereas currently this has increased to around 16 percentage points.”


According to Morris, one reason for the shift is the growing popularity of specialist stores within the retail sector as a whole.


“Specialist stores that appeal to a target market are definitely on the rise – that’s why department stores are having such a hard time,” he says.


“However, specialist stores have to make greater inroads than department stores. If you’re small, you often don’t have the advantage of a big brand. You therefore have to establish something unique about what you do and position yourself strategically within the market.”


“The research shows us that if you’re going to focus on a particular market, do it properly.”


Morris says Athlete’s Foot is a highly targeted store with a very professional approach, which gives it an advantage over other more general stores.


“[Buying from] Athlete’s Foot can be quite expensive but the level of service is outstanding, which is very important. They appear to know what they’re doing and reinforce this with their customer service and product knowledge,” he says.


Morris advises start-ups to ensure there is enough demand for their business prior to starting up.


“You can’t just run a business in an area you’re interested in. Don’t confuse a hobby with a good idea for making money,” he says.


“Also, if you’re highly geared but you can’t stand the establishment costs, you’re out before you’ve even started.”


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