Sarenza, the success-shoe-story online

" People will never buy shoes on the Internet. It was the mantra repeated by Net entrepreneurs, shoe shop owners, e-commerce experts and other skeptical minds when, in September 2005, three Frenchmen launched Sarenza. Nobody believed it, and yet … Francis Lelong, Yoan The Berrigaud and Franck Zayan, all three thirty, passed by several companies of what was called, then, the new economy, locate the American e-commerce site Zappos , specializing in the sale of shoes and sneakers, which offers free deliveries and a refund within forty-eight hours. They decide to import the concept. That's how was born one of E-tailers Europe's most powerful "online stores", today present in 30 countries, with 175 million visits per year on the site and revenues of nearly 300 million euros in 2017.

Sarenza, a countercurrent strategy

Enthusiasm has not always been appropriate. If the idea starts well, the company, with its 28 employees, nears the filing of bankruptcy in 2007 and investors then require restructuring. Exit the founders. Stéphane Treppoz (graduate of HEC and former president of Meccano in New York and the French subsidiary of AOL) entered the scene in November 2006, first as a consultant. He then took over the reins of the company as president, with Hélène Boulet-Supau (a graduate of Essec) as general manager. " I was immediately excited by the concept of Sarenza, he recalls. Precisely because no one believed in it. Which meant that the market was unexplored. But also because, coming from the province, I knew how much the supply of shoes, except in Paris, was limited. The potential was there, you just had to find a good business plan. "

Stéphane Treppoz is a happy man: in ten years, he managed to lead Sarenza, a start-up on the brink of filing for bankruptcy at the time, to the rank of leader in the sale of shoes online.
Stéphane Treppoz is a happy man: in ten years, he managed to lead Sarenza, a start-up on the brink of filing for bankruptcy at the time, to the rank of leader in the sale of shoes online. DR

But, at first, we must avoid the crash. In one weekend, he managed to get an investment of 300,000 euros thanks to a friend. And the two leaders immediately begin a complete reorganization of the start-up. By applying measures to the antipodes of everything that is done elsewhere. The offices are relocated in the heart of Paris, 27 rue de Choiseul, close to the Opera. Certainly, " it's a little open space, but it's more fun than the suburbs "Admits Stéphane Treppoz, who also shares the set with the other employees. And the IT department, previously delocalised in India, returns to the fold, even if the costs are seven times higher.

Following a review of the marketing strategy, advertising campaigns and a new warehouse near Paris, more modern and more efficient, which allows to deliver in four countries in less than twenty-four hours, a first in e-commerce European. "Mr. Shoes" – the nickname of Stéphane Treppoz, who admits that "chez Sarenza, we tend to use this term rather than "shoes" or "shoes", it's more fashion and more global – tends to do things backwards, but never without reason and rarely without result. The proof ? In 2008, the company returned to profits and refused an offer to buy Amazon. In 2011, Stéphane Treppoz and Hélène Boulet-Supau bought almost 80% of the capital and took control of Sarenza. In 2013, the turnover of 150 million euros is crossed.

Difficult, among the some 55 000 models proposed, not to find shoe on his foot on the site.
Difficult, among the some 55 000 models proposed, not to find shoe on his foot on the site. DR

No script

That's all about the success story … The secret of this success? Well-defined priorities Two, to be exact: " The offer and the customer service, that's all. As for the first, no one would dare to accuse Sarenza of playing the scarcity card. With 770 brands, seven of which are designed "in house" – and manufactured, for the most part, in Spain and Portugal – it is impossible not to find a shoe on one's feet. " We have more than 40 buyers who go to Paris, London, Milan, Berlin … And, on average, two brands contact us every day to be referenced and sold at home. Customer service is the closest to the consumer. Named " customer delight service Is a team of 60 people from 15 different countries who observe an unusual rule: " No script. With a satisfaction rate of 98.4%, we can say that the bet is successful. It is also the customers who, through their visits and their research on the site, reveal to the Sarenza teams their tastes and their needs. Data that has contributed to the internationalization of Sarenza, its largest project for almost eight years … And its great success.

Sarenza also sells mass-market products, such as these Puma Roma, as homemade models stamped Mr Sarenza.
Sarenza also sells mass-market products, such as these Puma Roma, as homemade models stamped Mr Sarenza. DR

Mr. Shoes controls his business to the millimeter: " Germans prefer comfortable shoes. The English love everything that is eccentric. Converse is the favorite brand in the Netherlands. The Spaniards buy from their smart-phone and the Italians have a weakness for high heels, He recites, but market dynamics are also very different. In Germany, the average shopping basket is 50% higher than the average French basket. In Great Britain 18%, in Luxembourg 28% … In the French market, which still accounts for 50% of Sarenza's total turnover, 75% of customers are in the provinces and 25% in the Paris region, including 7% in Paris. The margins of development remain enormous. " Any shop, physical or virtual, that sells shoes is our competitor. We must continue, more than ever, to offer unparalleled choice and service, asserts Stéphane Treppoz. Our goal for this year is to reach 10 million loyal customers. And to make sure that any fan of shoes has Sarenza in mind. Good choice!

Numbers

• 10,000 pairs of shoes, on average, are sold each day.
375 employees work in the Paris headquarters of the brand, near the Opera, from 15 different countries.
50% of women appear on the management committee. Parity is one of the challenges faced by Sarenza.
• 770: the number of brands in the e-commerce site … More than 55,000 models, 100 times more choices than in stores.
• 19,500 meters2 : the size of the warehouse, located just outside Paris and which stores 2.6 million pieces.
• 40,000: the maximum number of packages that can be shipped each day.
• From 3 to 10%: the return rate in France … which reaches 50% in Germany, where we pay on delivery.
• 23 €: the average cost of a pair of shoes.
• 100 €: the average basket of each customer of the sign.