Why These Retailers Are Selling Luxury Shoes and Bedding Direct to People’s Doorsteps

It was a big deal for Sarah Flint when her namesake luxury shoe company decided to ditch major retail stores in favor of selling fancy footwear direct to customers via the Internet.

“It was terrifying,” Flint said of the decision, which she made in order to shave the price of her high-end shoes in half. But selling shoes online has some benefits that were unavailable to selling them the traditional way via brick-and-mortar stores, Flint explained on Wednesday during Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

For one thing, selling shoes from other companies’ stores meant that those businesses could hoard valuable customer data related to store purchases that Flint could have used to her own company’s benefit.

“They only share so much data with you,” Flint said of department stores.

Now that the Sarah Flint company is selling shoes directly to consumers online, Flint can better understand her customers and their purchasing habits. Additionally, she said that selling shoes online lets her more effectively communicate her company’s branding, which would often conflict with the stores’ salespeople who had a different way to sell shoes.

“I wanted to make shoes that were comfortable and beautiful,” Flint said. This message would conflict with some luxury department stores that believed that “comfort is not sexy” and that “beauty is pain,” she added.

Selling shoes online allows Flint better “control” of her company’s marketing, which emphasizes that “comfort is sexy.”

Ariel Kaye, the founder and CEO of bedding and bath product company Parachute, noted that her company’s customers are increasingly using social media services like Instagram to show off pictures of Parachute items in their homes, which was not the case a few years ago. More exposure of Parachute products via social media means that the company gets to market its wares to a bigger audience.

One thing people seem to be sharing more of now are pictures of their beds, Kaye said. She speculated this could be because people may be trying to connect and bond with each other over a “positive sleep experience.”

“It might be something people want to talk about,” Kaye said of getting a good night’s rest.

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