A unique retail concept that boasts no inventory – but more selection than could ever be carried by a traditional store – is set to be opened in Portland, OR, by Fleet Feet Pacific Northwest owner Wade Pannell March 5.
The Fleet Feet Drop Shop, what Pannell, calls “a continuation of our brand promise to offer personalized outfitting with our fit id experience for every customer who walks in the door,” joins his other stores in Spokane, Spokane Valley, WA; North Spokane, WA; Tacoma WA; Bonney Lake, WA; Renton, WA, NW Portland, OR; Vancouver, WA; Lake Oswego, OR; and Meridian, ID.
The Fleet Feet Drop Shop is a retail store with an inventory-less model. The store keeps one pair each of the 35 top-selling shoe models in stock, in every size they come in. This model gives the customer the ability to find – and more importantly, try on – the product they want and have it arrive at their doorstep in the color they desire, in two days.
There will be fewer styles than a traditional store — in its average store, Fleet Feet Northwest carries approximately 65 (10 in Wide) styles in men’s and women’s. In the Drop Shop, there will be 35 styles (15 in Wide), a number determined to be most efficient since 85 percent of its current sales are covered by those top 35 styles. There will be more colors available to purchase than at its traditional store — one or two colors will expand to three to five.
“We have the ability to really focus on a value proposition for the customer that’s centered around selection and convenience — two factors that make shopping online so attractive,” he explains.
“The value proposition to the customer is clear cut — drop in, try on the shoe in the size and width you need, choose the color you want and have it delivered to your doorstep in two days,” Pannell explains. The concept works because customers are already used to this endless aisle from shopping online and now they can have that same selection, but experience the product on ahead of time before purchasing.
Pannell believes the time and location are right for the Drop Shop concept because of the many challenges affecting the urban brick-and-mortar retailers — among them, constantly escalating real estate prices, increased drive times from congested roadways and, last but not least, the availability of products online elsewhere in every size and color desired. An urban brick-and-mortar store has trouble competing in that environment with those challenges.
The buying for all of Fleet Feet Pacific Northwest’s stores, including the Drop Shop, is centralized in Spokane. The distribution center is located there as well and will service its traditional stores will weekly fills and the Drop Shop customer with no-charge direct shipping to whatever location they prefer — home, work or a store.
The Fleet Feet Store Support Team has been heavily involved in the marketing, logos, branding and development of the Drop Shop. Fleet Feet corporate views this as an opportunity to test many of its current assumptions about the footwear consumer, the urban retail environment and back-of-house operations and from there, see what types of additional markets could benefit from this concept.
With the opening slated for this month, Parnell expects to have a good idea of the success of the Fleet Feet Drop Shop concept fairly quickly.
“Our KPIs are pretty standard in that we’ll look at and compare revenue, UPTs, DPTs, return rate, Net Promoter Score and profitability of the Drop Shop model both as a standalone and compared to traditional models.,” Pannell explains.