Hi friends, and Happy New Year! It’s Kasia, back with another intriguing e-commerce story. This time, the What’s in Store crew found itself in a store called Cobbler Union tucked in Atlanta’s bustling Ponce City Market. Cobbler Union sells beautiful bespoke-inspired luxury shoes to men around the globe. (“Bespoke” means “custom-made,” in case you weren’t sure.)
Before launching, the store’s co-founders Daniel Porcelli and Santiago Pereiro spent years in the world of bespoke shoemaking and led the expansion of a studio in Barcelona. They realized that the luxury of owning $4,000 shoes was only accessible to a select group of customers, so they set out to build something bigger to promote their craft at a fraction of the cost.
Cobbler Union has gone from operating in Daniel’s garage to having offices in Spain (where they handcraft the shoes in small batches) and the U.S., operating their flagship store in Atlanta, and selling shoes in over 80 countries through their site. “We are 3 years old with the mindset of a 100-year-old company,” says co-founder and CEO Daniel Porcelli. “This is truly a candy store for men who love shoes.”
“Increasing email frequency has allowed us to communicate with our members (that’s what we call our customers) in a more proactive and effective way,” Daniel says. “If I don’t knock on the door, I won’t get the customer.” That means that from product launches and inventory changes to special events and promotions, members hear from Cobbler Union 3 to 4 times a week. “Most of our growth in online sales (100% year over year) can be attributed to our email marketing strategy,” Daniel adds.
“What attracted us to direct-to-consumer was knowing the customer,” Daniel says. “We know them so, so well.” According to Daniel, Cobbler Union’s clientele skews younger and enjoys the longevity of luxury. That is, if you take good care of the shoes, they can last 10 to 20 years—and they make members feel taller, leaner, and more powerful, he says. “We’re in the confidence business.”
That feeling of poise has led members to form strong bonds with employees, especially when a member comes back after a successful job interview, for instance. “We’re extremely proud of the thousands of relationships we’ve built with our members around the world,” Daniel says.
From the beginning, Cobbler Union has made their supply chain one of their competitive advantages. Because they produce the shoes in small batches continuously, they’re able to optimize their inventory count, offer more models to members and—most importantly—introduce new products on an ongoing basis. “We can quickly react to what our members like and what they don’t like, and we’re never too far from making a specific shoe should we not have it in stock,” Daniel says.
“We also would like to help as many guys as possible discover the power of style and self-expression,” he adds. “Customer service is huge for us. That’s non-negotiable.”