By Annie Pettit
I am not a shopper.
When I find clothing or shoes that sort of fit, I buy them in every colour and sprint out of the store like I’m being chased by demons. And yet, for years, I’ve slowed my pace to a crawl as I pass one specific store. I love feasting my eyes on the beauties that are Fluevog shoes. I love these, and these, and these, and these and I wish I had a bigger bank account! The unusual candy colours and truly unique and innovative designs suck me in every time.
Last year, I finally ventured in. I gazed around in admiration at so many shoe designs that seemed to speak to me personally. Weird, funky, unusual, and definitely screaming for attention.
Very quickly, one of several clerks invited me to try on a pair. I pointed to the shoes I really liked and reluctantly asked for a size 10. You see, size 10 is quite popular in brown, boring functional shoes but a rarity in shoes that have even a modicum of style. To my surprise, both a size 10 and 10.5 were promptly fetched from the basement. Without me asking. Also to my surprise, I was presented with several more pairs of shoes that the clerk thought might be to my liking (the human approach to the algorithmic version of “you might also like!”). And, rather than scooting off without a word to grab more shoes for other customers, I was invited to try on as many pairs as I wished and to take as long as I wished. I was told I could come in anytime for a free shoe polishing. I was told I could bring the shoes back in a few years and get the heels replaced. Needless to say, I left with a beautiful pair of feet decorations.
For the non-shopper that I am, I was genuinely surprised and delighted by the retail experience. In my moment of indulgence, it didn’t occur to me that shoes with three odd colours of leather would require me to hunt out three odd colours of shoe polish. Colours that no one produces and that would create a serious pain point for me in the future. It didn’t occur to me I would have to find a cobbler who could fit the highly unusual shoe and heel shape into their traditional machinery. That pain point was also discarded before I knew it existed. And, offering other designs in my often neglected shoe size was simply lining me up for a long-term, anticipatory customer experience. Unlike any other store I’ve ever been to, Fluevog has a clear strategy of anticipating and resolving current and future needs before customers realize they have them.
Though they have never touched a sidewalk, my beautiful Fluevogs have graced the stage at numerous industry conferences. I carry them in their specially designed cloth bag from conference to conference so that the chance of scratching them is reduced. And every time I wear them, I share the delight that was discovered during the retail experience with every person who admires them. From window to retailer to consumer to recommendation. The perfect purchase cycle.