Crep Protect consumers typically buy its rain-and stain-protecting spray and apply it to their sneakers at home. However, with its new in-store service, the London-based sneaker care company has made it possible for consumers to have their kicks treated before stepping away from the register.
After launching in Europe, the company has brought its Crep Protect 360 in-store sneaker protection service to the U.S. The first retailer to adopt this machine stateside is Foot Locker.
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Ahmed said there will be more than 300 machines in Foot Locker stores throughout Europe by the end of November. Also, the exec stated the first 30 machines in Foot Locker stores in the U.S. have been installed, and there will be a much wider rollout Q1 next year.
“During COVID, we had a reality check. [Physical] retail took a battering and everyone turned to online. We’re focused on brick-and-mortar and our retail partners, and we succeed with their success,” Crep Protect co-founder and director Nohman Ahmed explained to FN. “For us, we thought, ‘How do we bring excitement back into the retail arena?’ With this machine, it was not only innovative, but it was something new.”
He continued, “We want to tap into a different type of consumer. If you look at our consumer base, we’ve got the sneakerhead, we’ve got the people that know [us and buy us]. But there are people who go into stores to buy shoes and they say, ‘I don’t buy shoe care.’ With this machine, we’re trying to increase our market share and engage consumers with a Crep Protect service that wouldn’t usually engage in that service.”
To create Crep Protect 360, the company teamed up with in-store footwear protection service Imbox Protection. As for the process, sneakers are placed into a footwear chamber where a specially formulated spray is applied via jets of mist. The spray then sets and the sneakers are speed dried.
Ahmed said he fielded several questions from retail partners about Crep Protect 360. However, there was one that was asked most frequently: “How long does it take?”
“We understand the retail environment and brought a solution that works,” Ahmed said. “We know whether it’s back-to-school, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, store traffic during those times are peak. If store associates think there’s going to be a backed up cue and they need to go through the numbers, they just won’t use a machine. That’s exactly what we don’t want.”
Whereas the cans of spray that consumers purchase and use at home take 10 minutes to set and dry (and an additional 10 minutes if reapplied), the Crep Protect 360 in-store service takes 90 seconds.
To further address the value of a consumer’s time and drive anticipation, Ahmed said Crep Protect and Imbox added a camera to the front of the machine so they can see their shoes being treated in real time.
This in-store service, according to Crep Protect, ensures sneakers are protected from UV damage, rain, stainable liquids and more for 6-8 weeks. In terms of materials, Crep Protect said this service was created to work on sneakers of all, including suede, leather, nubuck, knit and more. Ahmed explained that the machine has programmed options based on the material for shoe, and the amount of the solution sprayed and the dry time depends on the material of the shoe.
The price to have sneakers protected via Crep Protect 360 in store at Foot Locker is $7.
“We didn’t want something that’s labor intensive. Innovation fails at retail because we ask the retailer to do all the work,” Ahmed said. “We wanted to make sure this was not only something innovative, and at the same time it ticks to commercial box. This is something innovative and actually makes good money for the retailer.”
Although Foot Locker was the first retailer to bring in Crep Protect 360, Ahmed said he expects the company’s other retail partners to sign on as well.
Aside from Crep Protect 360, Ahmed said Crep Protect is ready to launch several products that were created with convenience and speed in mind. For instance, the company will deliver before year’s end an instant cleaning foam. This foam, Ahmed explained, will change color from purple when its applied to the shoe to white, which indicates it is ready to be wiped off. Also, Ahmed said Crep Protect is working on a new sneaker deodorizer that mimics real scents reminiscent of perfumes or colognes that men and women like, moving away from the standard smell of deodorizing products.
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