This year promises to be the perfect storm for running — the Paris Olympics will shine an international spotlight on running, participation is at an all-time high and technology is not only engaging running enthusiasts, but at the same time also welcoming new participants. All of this momentum is taking place during a time when the brands, retailers and consumers are making purposeful decisions that protect the planet, especially products that provide best-in-class durability. 

Enter IMBOX Protection from Denmark, billed as “the world’s only in-store footwear protection technology” enabling consumers to protect their newly purchased footwear with a PFAs-free treatment. It only takes one minute for a cost between $7-8. 

Today, IMBOX Protection has more than 7500 retail units worldwide and is selling more than 35 million treatments each year, with the most recent partnership being with Snipes, the iconic sneaker retailer that is installing IMBOX units across the U.S.

The IMBOX Story

IMBOX Protection recognized that running was having a moment, which is why the company, with U.S. headquarters in Chicago, decided to engage with the run specialty market. As the running footwear market continues to thrive, with a five percent year-over-year sales increase to $1.9 billion (according to Circana), IMBOX Protection saw the need for providing advanced protection technologies to keep pace with this growth.

The IMBOX units quietly dispense their formula, ensuring precise application, drying and heating for each shoe, preserving all materials, including suede, leather, textile, nubuck and synthetic components. As the footwear undergoes the treatment, customers may watch each step of the process on a 24-inch display on the front of the machine. Treated shoes emerge ready to wear.

The brand is committed to environmentally smart practices, especially the shift towards PFAs-free retail practices. The fluid used in IMBOX Flagship is water-based and has received CE (European Union safety/performance approval) and UL (Global safety/performance approval) approval, signifying a commitment to high-quality standards in eco-friendly shoe protection. 

The Run Specialty Opportunity

For run specialty retailers, this is a distinct added value benefit for their customers. IMBOX Protection knows that running shoes are vulnerable to stains in light of their component technologies and fabric. The brand’s proprietary treatment enhances stain resistance without compromising breathability — a real win-win for runners. 

IMBOX Protection has seen enthusiasm for its technology in running retail in Europe through its partnership with Runners Need and Stadium. IMBOX is now looking to expand to more U.S. running and sports retailers. 

“The expansion of in-store value-add options caters to consumer preferences, ultimately contributing to heightened retail profitability,” explains Oliver Hede, VP–North American sales. “By addressing consumers’ needs for weather resistance and performance, IMBOX Protection provides a cost-effective and time-saving solution, benefitting both retailers and customers, as well as minimizing damage to planet.”

“Runners, now more than ever, require the assurance that their investment in high-performance footwear is complemented by state-of-the-art protection,” adds Johan Eklöf, customer experience specialist at Stadium. “IMBOX Protection gives us a fantastic opportunity to ensure and extend the longevity of performance running shoes. It’s a win-win for retailers and discerning runners who understand the value of preserving the integrity of their footwear.”