How to Start a Shoe Business Online (2023 Updated)

Are you excited about starting a business online? Technology and wide access to the internet has made it possible to start and run a successful digital business. 

One of the fast-moving products that you can sell online is shoes. In fact, there is endless number of shoe stores on the internet selling various designs and labels of shoes.

How to Start a Shoe Business Online

As a result, you can get a classy pair of heels or boots delivered to your doorstep at a cheaper price than what you find in a conventional physical shoe store near you.

Customers are attracted to online stores because they offer highly competitive pricing, broader options, and they can see the product specifications without leaving their house.  

On the other hand, an entrepreneur doesn’t need a lot of capital to start and run a shoe business online as compared to a physical boutique in a shopping mall.

Actually, you run your own store from the house in any state in America. However, you must have a standard user-friendly website, partner with a reputable shipping company, and integrate with a secure payment platform. 

So then, let’s get started on how to start a shoe business online.

How to Sell Shoes Online

Before you dive into selling shoes online, you understand which type of footwear you will stock and your target audience. Here are steps that can help you to get started with selling shoes online. 

Do Your Research:

This involves identifying the niche and the type of shoes you will sell online. These could be sports shoes, indoor shoes, classic shoes and more. Market research can help you identify trending shoes and the best target audience. 

Identify the Source of Your Shoes

Now that you know the types of shoes that you want to stock and the potential customers, it’s time to identify where you will source them.

Your sources could be secondhand, or pre-owned shoes, purchasing in bulk from wholesalers, manufacturers or dropshipping suppliers. 

Choose Where to sell Your Shoes

It’s important to identify the best place to sell your shoes. These include social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest page. You can sell in marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon.

Still, you can create your own online store but this will not give a ready-made customer base like the online marketplaces. 

Market Your Shoes

You need to showcase your shoes to potential buyers using photos, and product descriptions. Use a language that resonates with shoppers and cover the main features of your product. 

Set the Right Prices

You should sell your shoes fairly because high prices will deter customers while extremely low prices will reduce your profit margins. Consider factors such as your profit goals, competitor pricing and product cost when setting the price. 

Create an Online Store

Start by developing an eCommerce website that is not only well designed but mobile-responsive. You can hire online store builders if you don’t have the skill to create a website. Further, create an account with online marketplaces and social media sites. (Dream Developer Provides Online Store Development Service)

Related: Is eCommerce legit?

Make Packaging and Shipping Arrangements

 You should invest in good packaging in order to protect your shoes when being delivered to your customers.

Good packaging material is appropriately sized, durable and light in weight. Also partner with different courier services because customers have a preference and you should be ready to provide them with that.

Start Marketing Your Shoes

Identify the platform where your target audience is most active. This could be on social media networks, search engines, shopping websites and more. 

Where Can I Sell Shoes

Where Can I Sell Shoes

Today there are plenty of places where you can sell your new, secondhand or even unwanted items. In fact, there are a generous number of online marketplaces where you can sell shoes.

However, although these platforms allow you to upload your listing, most of them require you to handle the shipment part. 

Here are some popular sites that you can use to sell your shoes. 

 eBay: This is a go-to marketplace that allows people to sell their stuff at a commission. The process starts by creating an account, uploading photos and providing product details. The seller handles the shipment and gets paid via direct deposit or PayPal.

Tradesy: The platform allows you to sell authentic, designer shoes online at a commission. It handles the entire process from payment to shipping.

Then you can either withdraw your earnings via PayPal or debit card or use the cash to buy items on the platform. 

Sole Supremacy: You can sell the shoes directly to this company thus eliminating the need to wait for a buyer to show interest in them.

The company gives you a quote and asks you to deliver the shoes or send them for authentication. Once confirmed the company sends your payment via PayPal. 

Flight Club: The platform buys and sells authentic sneakers. The seller creates a submission to get their sneakers listed for sale and then sends the shoes to the company for authentication.

Next, it markets the shoes on its platform, ships them to the buyer and pays the seller via PayPal or bank transfer. 

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How Much Does It Cost to Make a Shoe?

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Shoe

There is no exact cost of making a shoe because this depends on its design and volume.  For instance, the cost of mass production is different from that of making a single shoe because it gets cheaper as the quantity increases. The reason is that you get supplies in bulk and streamline the process to accommodate huge volumes.

In the footwear industry, manufacturers give retailers a 50% discount. Thus a shoe that goes for $100 is most likely sold to the seller by the athletic apparel and sporting goods company like Nike at $50.  

The cost breakdown of that shoe is as follows:

Factory FOB cost = $25

Sea Freight and insurance = $1 

Duty (10% of FOB cost) = $2.50

Total = $28.50

Nike might make $21.50 when it delivers its shoes to the retailer or $4.50 when it adds the cost of research and development, taxes and other administrative expenses.

How to Design and Sell Your Own Shoe

Designing handmade or custom shoes offers customers access to unique wearables. However, this process can be challenging when one has no or limited experience in fashion, design, and production. 

Here is how to design and sell your own shoes.

1. Shoe Specifications:

The first step is to learn about features of your product such as should they have machine-washable material, cushioned insoles, colors and more. 

2. Design Layouts:

The next step after product specifications is the shoe layouts. For instance, they can be printed in sections and then assembled. 

3. Shoe Design files:

You can use templates in Photoshop or any other program to design your files.

4. Take Photos of Your Shoes:

Use a powerful tool to take the photo, then upload them to show potential buyers how it feels to wear your designs.

5. Promote Your Shoes:

Share your new shoe designs on your social media accounts or run an email marketing campaign. For instance, you can post them and a link with a bio to your online store on your Instagram so that they can follow it.

This will help them to get an update every time you post new products or designs especially as seasons change. For instance, consumers buy back-to-school shoes, mountain biking shoes, or others.  

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How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Shoe Business?

How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Shoe Business

Starting a shoe business from scratch can cost $10,000 to $50,000. These funds will go into paying for legal business settlement fees, leasing a commercial establishment, preparing stock, furnishing the store, hiring a team, developing a website, marketing costs, paying bills such as power, water and energy as well as other shoe store’s startup costs.

On the other hand, the cost of starting an online shoe business can be less costly because you don’t need a physical store.

However, you need some inventory, an official website, personnel to process orders, handle packaging and shipping. This might cost you approximately $5,000 but you can top up the amount based on the business needs.

Alternatively, you can start with dropshipping if you don’t have any capital. This involves marketing other companies products on your website or social media accounts.

Once your customers make orders, you forward them to the manufacturer who completes the transaction. In this case, you serve as an intermediary between the manufacturer and the customer.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Shoe Line?

A shoe line entails manufacturing your own shoes and so you need to spend a lot of money on quality materials. There is no fixed amount for starting a shoe line because each designer has to choose their preferred shoe type and target audience.

For instance, designers working in the highly competitive area pay more for materials, talents, tools, etc in order to deliver unique shoes. 

Therefore, a shoe line might cost between $35,000 and $200,000 depending on what you want to deliver in the shoe market.

In fact, some designers have two or more production lines such as the first line for the high-end market and the secondary line for inexpensive shoes that goes to most online retail stores.

Some shoe designers sell their primary line shoes between $300 and $600, the next line ranges from $75 to $200 and the inexpensive line may go for $50 and below.

Are Online Shoe Stores profitable?

Are Online Shoe Stores profitable

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Selling shoes online is a lucrative business. In fact, the sneaker resale market alone is valued at $1 billion thus very profitable.

The global footwear market has been a multi-billion dollar industry due to market stability and increased innovation which makes it easy to sell shoes through different channels. 

Retailers that purchase their stock directly from shoemaking companies are able to make a 50% return on their investment.

Further, an eCommerce shoe store can attract shoppers across the world and as a result, it can generate approximately $800,000 in sales. Such a store can make pure in-house profits of around $100,000. 

Similarly, smaller shoe store owners can generate huge profits when they buy their stocks from wholesalers in large consignments.

They should also effectively manage their stock and pricing to generate high profits, particularly during seasons when there is a high demand for certain types of shoes.

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10 Steps to Steps to start an Online Shoe Store Business Perfectly

Shoes are in constant demand and starting an online shoe store can be a lucrative business. Here is how to start a shoe business online.

1. Business Registration:

How do you plan to work? It’s important to give your business corporate identity. You can operate a legal entity or simply work as an individual entrepreneur. 

2. Choose a Niche:

Pick a specific shoe market that you intend to target. Is it the distribution of any footwear or a specific type of footwear?

Selling a specific type of shoes is more profitable because of reduced competition from well-established market players.

You can choose to focus on women’s shoes, men’s shoes or children’s shoes. These can be classic, sport indoor, handmade or special footwear such as industrial or work.

3. Competitive Analysis:

Study what other market players are up to, the main source of their traffic and the effective triggers for their target audience. Pay attention to your competitors’ assortment, reviews on socials, pricing policy as well as marketing strategies.

Such information is vital because it will help you differentiate yourself, develop effective ideas to market your shoes and list your competitive advantages. 

4. Pick Your Business Model:

Go for dropshipping if you have limited startup capital because it allows you to be an intermediary. In fact, your role is to promote different companies’ shoes, collect orders and send them to the manufacturers who then pack and ship the shoes directly to the buyers.

Wholesale commerce is another option that allows you to buy large consignment, store it in a warehouse and sell them out to retailers.

Starting your own production line is another option that allows you to create your own brand that designs and manufactures your own shoes. 

5. Build a Team:

 You can start with one employee because this is a digital business and there will be less work in the beginning.

The first employee can be an accountant, marketer, supplier relationship manager, etc. However, you don’t need these workers if you’re dropshipping because the manufacturer plays a major role when you submit the order.

6. Source for Wholesale Shoe Supplier:

You can easily find suppliers on thematic exhibitions, competitors’ sites, well-known shoe manufacturers, online directories or simply on search engines. You should consider factors such as location, supply stability, shoe quality and the potential of deferred payment.

7. Pick Where to Sell the Shoes:

You can sell your shoes purely on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Still, you can opt for major marketplaces such as Amazon because it has plenty of customers and it cost less to list your products on this platform.

You can also create your website or an eCommerce platform because you don’t pay any commission to list your products here and you can manage the entire process. 

8. Setup the Delivery and Payment Systems:

10 Steps to Steps to start an Online Shoe Store Business Perfectly

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Provide your customers with plenty of payment methods because each one has a different preference. These include cash payment, cashless payment, payment on delivery or bank transfers.

Further, offer your customers multiple shipment options. You can achieve that by organizing several pick-up points and partnering with more courier services.

Further, include a real-time order tracking feature to help buyers trace their packages.

9. Develop an Efficient Marketing Strategy:

Selling shoes online through your website is the best option. However, you must decide on how you’re going to market to your target audience as well as get recognition among your customers.

Consider SEO Optimization, email marketing, contextual advertising, social media marketing, or company blog.

10. Source for Startup Capital:

You need capital to design and manufacture shoes or buy large consignment unless you’re dropshipping.

Also, you need money to develop an eCommerce platform, pay for advertising activities, and pay salaries because you need a team to offer customer support, process orders and respond to customers queries. 

Shoe Business Plan

It’s important to have a well-defined and strategic shoe line in order to be profitable. A business plan is the first step in your journey towards realizing your goal of establishing an online shoe line.  

1. Executive Summary:

Write a brief introduction about your business, its owners, target market, the amount of loan you intend to borrow and the reason for starting your shoe line. 

2. Company Ownership:

Indicate the ownership such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or a company. The names and contact information of the owners. 

3. Products:

List the products you intend to sell in your online business such as upscale women’s shoes, me’s shoes, kids’ shoes or industrial shoes.

4. Market Analysis:

State the category you’re targeting i.e. fashion-conscious female customers, housewives, professional workers, etc. Also, state how you intend to attract this category as well as meet their needs. It’s also important to show how you will reach out to them.

5. Sales Strategy:

Indicate how you intend to drive sales. This includes attractive product displays, sell online via your website, social media sites or third-party marketplaces. Provide the sales forecast and milestones, competitive edge.

6. Management:

Describe your organizational chart, the manager’s functions, supporting staff, their roles, departments, training costs, salaries, and benefits.

7. Financial Plan:

provide a break-even analysis, projected profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet, and business ratios. 

How to Start an Online Shoe Store Without Inventory

How to Start an Online Shoe Store Without Inventory

You can start a good business of selling shoes online without an inventory by choosing the right business model. Here are 2 ways of starting an online shoe store without inventory.

An Affiliate Store:

This involves promoting other entrepreneurs’ products at a fee. Many companies across the globe have specially designed affiliate programs and this is a perfect fit for those starting out.

On the other hand, some affiliate programs don’t allow email marketing but you can promote their products on your social media, blog or website. 


This business model allows you to promote other people’s shoes on your online store, collect orders, and submit them to the manufacturers who will in turn handle the packaging and delivery part.

Therefore you don’t need an inventory or to ship the shoe to the customer because your role ends when you email the supplier the customers’ details. 

Related: How to Start a Dropshipping Business

How Can I Start a Shoe Business With No Money?

It’s extremely hard to start a shoe business without any money because although you don’t need a physical store, you need a website, computer and internet. With these tools, you can partner with your family member or friends with a shoe store. 

That means you will market their shoes online and receive a commission when you generate sales from your marketing initiatives. 

Still, you can engage in dropshipping or affiliate marketing and get paid a fee after every sale. Then you can save these amounts in order to open your own online shoe business.

How to Start a Shoe Business on Instagram

How to Start a Shoe Business on Instagram

Selling shoes on Instagram is worthwhile because there is a massive user base on this platform. However, customers should do thorough market research before they commit to a purchase.

They can look for reviews, positive comments and feedback from satisfied customers. They should also make payment via a verified platform such as PayPal because the platform processes a refund in case of a dispute. 

On the other hand, the seller can add customer testimonials to help build trust with new customers. You should have a verified payment method and a straightforward checkout process. In other words, avoid putting too many steps or a questionable payment method. 

Here is what you need to create an eCommerce store on Instagram.

1. Create an Instagram Business Profile

The account should have a photo or a logo because it helps customers to easily identify your company. It should have a well-crafted bio or a clear description that speaks to your audience. Further, you should place a link on the bio to help you track visits.

Also, your business profile should not only be beautifully designed, and consistently aesthetic but should have a branded profile photo and an eye-catching bio. 

2. Develop an Instagram Marketing Strategy

This platform has been experiencing heightened competition and constantly changing algorithms; however, you can use Instagram ads to catch the attention of your target audience. You can create a budget for these ads, and determine where you want them seen and for how long. 

3. Use Instagram Story Ads

The platform offers brands a paid opportunity that allows them to reach more people using immersive, full-screen ads custom-made for the target audience.

Still, photo ads are the top marketing opportunity for business but story ads are also recording significant growth. Actually, they can help businesses engage with their audiences more frequently and on a personal level. 

4. Offer Instagram-Only Promotions

Customers love promotions or sales and Instagram is a perfect platform to advertise your sale, discount code or launch a new product.

You can put your promo information in Instagram stories or a caption that encourages users to take advantage of the offer by clicking on the link in the bio. 

5. Work with Instagram Influencers

If you’re not interested in digital ads you can use collaborations and sponsorships in your social media marketing strategy.

In fact, shoppers don’t trust traditional ads but they trust personal recommendations from influencers. Your target audience will be excited to see an influencer wearing your shoe. 

6. Use Hashtags

Mastering the art of a hashtag help your brand gain traction and reach new customers. However, avoid using too many hashtags because they make a post look spammy. 

7. Include a Caption

A compelling photo coupled with a strong caption can make a post look good. A caption helps you to relate to a specific emotion and also serve as a call to action. You can invite them to check out a video, or visit your website.  

What Do Customers Want from Your Online Shoe Business

Many footwear brands rely on retailers to get their products out there because this is a tricky business. Still, some brands have decided to do it themselves by spending time to understand what customers want and using such details to stand out. Here is what customers want.

What Do Customers Want from Your Online Shoe Business

1. A Great Shoe:

They want a great product that comprises a unique design and additional features. They want artist-designed footwear and features like custom-designed fabrics,

3D printed soles, or increase running performance. These concepts are also being implemented in clothing stores. 

2. Filtering Options:

Apart from the shoe and online shop design, customers are interested in the correct sizes. They want to filter shoes of the same sizes but from different producers because they can’t buy the wrong size even when it looks amazing. Therefore, it’s important to have the appropriate configurations and proper placement. 

3. Good Photos:

Customers want to see large photos that show shoes from different angles and of excellent quality. The photo should reflect the actual shoe color and important details such as places of stitching, gluing, and ornaments.

4. A Brief Description:

 There should be search tools as well as concise information about the shoe characteristics. For instance, sportswear should provide details about the destination, the collection name, and available colors. A casual shoe should show the season to be worn, the material, and the collection name.

5. Measurement Guide and Size Chart:

Footwear manufacturers use different size schemes and so a shoe of a certain size may fit a different actual foot.

So then, an online shoe seller should give their customers the actual shoe size in centimeters. This will increase the customers’ trust level because they can easily determine their shoe size in various brands. 

6. Ethical or Environment-Friendly Brands:

 Today’s customers are concerned about their environment and so they’re looking for companies that are interested in such cause. 

7. Distribution Channels

A multi-channel distribution strategy can help you reach more consumers as well as keep them updated. This includes promoting shoes on social media sites,

Or local stores. Consumers react positively to such initiatives and will rush to buy your products whenever they get an alert of a new shoe design.


There you go. You now have adequate information on how to start a shoe business online. This ranges from designing the right shoes to building a shoe line to writing a business plan to sell on Instagram. 

Now is the best time to put this knowledge into practice. Kindly leave a comment about this article in the comment box.

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