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How to Start as a Shoe Distributor

by Joseph Petrick, studioD

Being a shoe distributor can be a fun and profitable venture if done with proper planning. In 2012, there were over 13 billion pairs of shoes sold globally, and the global footwear market is expected to reach $196 billion by 2015, according to Report Linke. In the U.S. for instance, athletic footwear sales amounted to $13.8 billion in 2012. However, to start and run a successful shoe distributorship business it requires creative marketing skills, commitment and the ability to keep up with constantly changing market needs.

Write a Business Plan

A business plan is the first step for all new businesses. It allows you to convert a vague idea into a concrete plan through research, financial projections and market analysis. It also allows you to outline your shoe business’ vision, mission, and define your business strategy to achieve them. Evaluate important factors in your business such as start-up costs, expenses, projected revenues, competition and sustainability. Answer questions such as how you intend to source for capital, attract customers to your store and exit if the business does not work.

Registration and Licensing

Your business name identifies your shoe store. If you choose to use a different name other than your personal name for your store, you will need to register it with your nearest county clerk’s office. Some states require you to register with a state agency. Choose a name that can be associated with shoes. Also, to run your business legally, you will need certain federal permits and licenses. For example, the government requires you to have a Federal Business Tax ID for taxation purposes. Visit your nearest Small Business Administration office or website to find out your state’s compliance rules. If you have any names, logo or shapes that distinguish your shoe distributorship store from the rest, register them with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office.

Choose Your Market and Brand

Women, men, children and sports people have varying demand and needs when shopping for footwear. For example, when dealing with women, fashion is a critical selling point. When dealing with sportsmen, comfort and durability matter a lot. Also, the brand you choose to distribute matters. In the sports industry for instance, the 6 top players are; Adidas, NIKE, VF Corp, Foot locker, Asics and Under Armour. Conduct your own informal survey to identify which shoe types have a bigger demand in your area. You can focus on 1 type of clientele or combine several of them to expand your customer base. For example, you can focus on women, but stock fashion, casual and sports shoes for women.


The location of your business determines your accessibility and the number of people you reach. Find a location that hosts many shoe retailers by using statistics from the footwear industry or the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Also, find a location that has heavy foot traffic to maximize the number of people who see your store, and display your shoes in an attractive manner. Work with an expert to design a website to make it possible for your customers to shop at their convenience and to help you reach more potential clients.

About the Author

Joseph Petrick has been a writer and editor since 2003. He writes career, business and education articles. His work has appeared in several online publications including Career Today. Petrick holds a Master of Arts in philosophy/economic anthropology from Pennsylvania State University.

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