Footwear retailer Shoe Zone has insisted that value players can make money online as it ramps up its multichannel offer.

Shoe Zone chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Lots of value retailers say they can’t make online work but we do and we offer free delivery on everything. Online will play a significant part in our future profitability.”

Smith’s comments conflict with value giant Primark, which said that the costs associated with ecommerce hinder it trading profitably.
In September last year the fashion retailer called time on its online trial with Asos after just three months.

Primark-owner Associated British Foods finance director John Bason told Retail Week this month: “I think at our price point it’s difficult to make money. It’s the picking, packing, fulfilment and returns, and all for a £2 T-shirt. That’s your margins blown.”

Smith, who said that online is now five times larger than its biggest store, said the key was keeping its business model simple. It does not offer free returns, which has led to 90% of returns going through its stores which reduces the cost of returns. Shoe Zone sells shoes from £2.99 and trainers from £9.99.

To propel its multichannel growth, Shoe Zone has launched a trial of online kiosks in 12 of its stores enabling shoppers to browse and buy from its entire range.

Smith said: “In-store kiosks have been a fantastic addition to some of our smaller stores that are not able to house the full Shoe Zone offering. 

“It is encouraging that we can already see customers are starting to use the kiosks to explore the range and make orders if the store doesn’t stock the size or style required.” 

Shoe Zone has also launched 200 products as online exclusives, which include faster fashion styles and popular seasonal lines.