Footwear Supply Chain Sustainability

Footwear Supply Chain Sustainability

Shoes are essential.

They are the only part of us that is in constant contact with the ground.  In the same way that tires are essential to a car’s performance, footwear impacts almost every phase of our lives.  From that first pair of soccer cleats to those uncomfortable dress shoes, and every pair of running shoes in between, footwear is a ubiquitous and essential ingredient of each day. 

As rapidly as styles, functions and fashions are changing, the demands of consumers are changing even faster.  Not only in the aesthetic sense (although that is always changing too), but in the way that customers want to order and receive shoes.  Awareness and more competitive economic factors have accelerated this issue.  In response to these challenges, sustainable processes within the footwear supply chain need to be developed.  This can be achieved by focusing on two key elements: transparency and efficiency.

  • Transparency: According to the Annual Wholesale Trade Survey, in the 3 years ending in 2012, U.S. wholesalers of apparel, like shoes, increased inventory levels by over $5 billion in product. With this massive influx of inventory, tracking and managing your products and orders becomes even more important. How can you deliver on customer expectations if you cannot provide real time data on their order status and location? A sophisticated warehouse management system (WMS) will allow you to gain visibility throughout the entire process, from ordering and picking to tracking and delivery. The first step to battling increased competition and customer demands is to make transparency the focus of your supply chain. Check out how transparency drives efficiency at Barrett Distribution.


  • Efficiency: Footwear consumption grew by 4.9% in 2013, to over $72.4 billion, per ShoeStats 2013. This uptick in purchasing activity can largely be attributed to the emergence of expanded, cheaper and more convenient purchasing and shipping options. As consumers are buying more shoes than ever before, they are also spending more. In 2012, every American man, woman and child spent $230 to purchase an average of seven pairs of shoes (That’s an average of $920 every year for a family of four!). There are innumerable ways to make your supply chain more efficient, however there is one that is more effective than all others: trust between members of your supply chain. With trust comes increased collaboration, sharing of data and more brains working towards a solution. It is no doubt a scary prospect to open yourself up to your suppliers, partners and vendors (and even your competition sometimes). However, remember that a relationship is a two-way street and that each member of your supply chain is equally wary of sharing information. But if you expect to gain the information required to increase efficiency, you have to take a different approach.

Transparency and efficiency should be a focus of each phase of the footwear product lifecycle.  Through visibility technology and strategic logistics planning, Barrett Distribution Centers has the experience and resources to enhance your footwear fulfillment needs. 

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