You may have noticed, if you shop for shoes regularly online, that a lot of shoes are backordered. The frequency with which shoes are backordered is much more common now days as a result of the 2008 global recession. Since 2008, like all retail industries, the shoe industry was hit with a severe lack of demand for their products. This resulted in a large backlog of unsold shoes that had to be sold at clearance prices and little money to buy additional shoes upfront in the upcoming season. As a result, manufacturers began to trim costs and streamline operations in order to stay profitable. One of the primary ways they did this was by reducing the number of shoe styles being offered, and reducing the number of pairs made. So even though the companies have lower gross sales, they are more profitable because prices on the available shoes are more stable, they have reduced expenses associated with maintaining inventory, and they are at less risk of having inventory that must be sold as clearance items.
All of the changes had to be made in order to keep businesses afloat, but the consequence was a restriction in the number of shoe styles and number of pairs available. While this has had little impact on the retail shoe market, it has a big impact on the online market. This is because retail stores buy their shoes well in advance. They place their order with the manufacturer who then adds up all retail orders, adds what they think they can sell online and throughout the year as special orders and then places one large order with the factory. When the shoes arrive at the retailer, they’re sold until all are gone and the retailer then places an order for the following year.
The online shoe market works with the inventory that the manufacturer has left over after filling the retailers orders. Online retailers will buy the inventory from the manufacturer in large lots and then sell it out of their own warehouse, or they will sell the shoes from their own site and arrange to have the manufacturer ship the shoe once an order is placed. Both methods of selling have advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of buying the inventory is that the store knows exactly what inventory they have and will only list on their shop what they have available. The disadvantage of inventory is that it is expensive and often difficult to sell. This means that those who carry inventory cannot offer near the diversity of shoe options. The advantage of having the manufacturer ship the shoes for them is that the store can offer every pair of shoes that the manufacturer makes and not have to worry about inventory costs. The disadvantage is that the retailer has no control over the inventory, so even though the site may say that a shoe is available, that really means that the store can get the shoe for you, but they won’t know if it is in stock until they call the manufacturer to have it shipped.
Most internet stores arrange to have the manufacturer ship the shoes. This business model combined with the manufacturer‘s reduction in the number of shoes carried means you can continue to expect shoes to be regularly backordered when purchased online. When this happens, you can continue to look for the shoe on sites that carry inventory or give the retailer a call. Generally they are very willing to help you find a comparable shoe or help you find a store that does carry your shoe size.