Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 three startups took the stage to talk shoes with TechCrunch Editor in Chief Matthew Panzarino. Josh Luber of StockX, John McPheters of Stadium Goods and Ryan Babenzein from Greats all gave their thoughts on the current state of shoes.
They first discussed why the secondary sneakers market has had such a resurgence recently. The panel agreed that the rise of social media, and especially Instagram, has led to a big resurgence in discovery of shoes. Customers no longer have to go into a footlocker to see the newest shoes – they can just scroll through their Instagram feed.
Babenzein added that sneakers are essentially considered social currency. People start caring about what kind of shoes they wear when they are kids, and this mentality often carries into adulthood.
The conversation shifted to Instagram and how the platform has, and will continue to, transform commerce. Babenzein explained that as a retail brand they’ve looked at third-party tools to let Instagram users select a product and add it to their cart without ever leaving the Instagram app.
And all three agreed that it’s only a matter of time before Instagram rolls out full e-commerce support so customers can complete a full transaction without leaving the app.
McPheters also noted that Instagram has been a tremendous help with international engagement. Even though it would be difficult for Stadium Goods to sell directly in a country like China (they do it via a partnership with Alibaba) Instagram lets users there discover shoes and streetwear just like a user in the U.S would.
The conversation then turned to the current state of brick and mortar retail, which is a hot topic among startups and big retailers alike. Babenzein noted that while people have been saying retail would die since the day the internet was born, the fact is that shoppers sometimes still want to touch and feel an invite before they buy it.
That doesn’t mean Greats is about to open a store in a mall or on Broadway in NYC. So while the concept of brick and mortar retail may be morphing to get rid of the 10-year lease and emphasis on prime location, it’s never going to die.
Luber from StockX agreed, and said that the future of brick and mortar retail is all about experience. He noted that Kith and Footlocker both sell sneakers – but how they manage the customer experience makes one much more popular with sneaker fans than the other.
Before the talk ended Panzarino asked the trio about which sneaker brands were standing out today as being particularly innovative.
All three said Adidas, specifically citing new innovations like the Adidas Futurecraft 4D-printed shoes. Two years ago Adidas was 1% of the total resale market in dollars – today it’s over 33%. And the stock price has tripled in that time, as the brand has signed mega celebrities like Kanye West. If that isn’t growth, I don’t know what is.