How one sneaker seller avoided the supply chain woes that snarled retail

·3 min read

Like most retail operators, sneaker players found themselves battered by COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions — except one.

Sneaker seller GOAT Group, known primarily for its secondary market offerings, excelled amid global bottlenecks by leveraging supplier diversity.

Once a symbol of athleticism, sneakers have transformed into a fashionable — and often pricey — object of desire. From sportswear to catwalk fashion, the footwear category has made its mark as a “hot” commodity — and GOAT's key to success is giving consumers what they want on its platform, when they want it.

“We don't just have one seller where we depend on supply. We have over 700,000 sellers around the world that have supply on hand,” co-Founder & CEO Eddy Lu told Yahoo Finance on Friday.

“If you want a sneaker from five years ago, 10 years ago, we have that on GOAT so it's been a record breaking year for [us],” Lu added.

During COVID, the sneaker industry saw fair share of mishaps with release dates were in constant flux, and brands suffering from shutdowns at factories in Asia. Other projects were pushed back when big-name collaborators were forced to step away in the wake of the Astroworld Festival tragedy.

While supply chain woes dominated every conversation at the end of last year, the delays put certain athletic brands and retailers in jeopardy of missing crucial inventory targets. The pandemic also forced periodic factory closures in China, Malaysia and Vietnam, which halted production for months at a time.

“We didn't see as much of a supply chain impact as some other companies,” Lu said.

“Every country has its own top sneaker… in the Middle East, for example, Yeezys were the top sneakers of the year,” he added.

Female sneakerheads

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 20: A guest wears a black long coat, blue denim jeans pants, beige leather sneakers from Balanciaga, outside Rains , during Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2022-2023, on January 20, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 20: A guest wears a black long coat, blue denim jeans pants, beige leather sneakers from Balanciaga, outside Rains , during Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2022-2023, on January 20, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

The global sneaker market has been valued at approximately $79 billion in 2020 and is predicted to reach $120 billion by 2026. In fact, the hotly-coveted category become the one of the biggest-selling in the online luxury market.

High-fashion brands like Gucci and Balenciaga are setting the pace in the luxury sneaker market. Three years ago, Balenciaga’s Triple S became the biggest seller in the luxury sneaker market, given a boost in popularity from women buyers.

“We're seeing that the female demographic represents 40% of our consumer base now and growing,” Lu told Yahoo Finance.

Meanwhile, more secondary marketplaces are dipping into the space of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that are tied to physical products, allowing traders to buy and sell collectible items without the need to physically ship or possess them.

GOAT Group is also headed in that direction. During Black Friday, the company started a campaign called “spaces” that would allow consumers to drop into “virtually themed worlds” where they could access their products in different settings.

Aside from sneakers, a new hype for men – cross-body bags – have become wardrobe staples for Gen-Z and millennial urbanites, as pandemic-era trends like masks and hand sanitizer demand the need for more pockets to carry them.

According to the NPD group, U.S. sales of men’s and unisex handbags were up almost 700% in 2021 compared with 2018 — and GOAT is tapping into that interest.

“The accessory side it's one of our fastest growing markets,” Lu said. “We're continuing to invest time and product into giving these options to our consumers.”

He added that “fashion spans all genders…continue to be excited about the options for our female and male consumers,” he added.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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