Meet George Sullivan, the rising sneaker star who plans to ride the athleisure wave
Despite challenging times on the high street, there’s no ignoring the stand-out star of the fashion sector – athleisure. As consumer habits have shifted towards more active and healthy lifestyles, exercise and wellness have become prominent social activities and fitness has officially been catapulted into the mainstream. Latest figures suggest the athleisure segment is growing at 7% annually and is now worth more than £2.5 billion to the UK economy.
In a world viewed through the filter of Instagram, brands and sub brands are increasingly being used to project which athleisure tribe consumers belong to — and no item of clothing is more telling than the humble sneaker. This leads to cut-throat competition for the latest trainers and high demand for information about UK release details.
It is this heated atmosphere that led self-confessed sneaker addict George Sullivan to first develop a blog and then The Sole Supplier app and website, which is designed to help the 25 million annual website visitors purchase the hottest trainers the moment they hit the shelves, with minimum fuss.
Here we speak to George about riding the crest of the athleisure wave:
“The Sole Supplier app provides a lightning fast way to keep up with the latest rumours and release dates on the go, as well as access to buy different types of product including high heat shoes that sell out fast as well as the best general releases.”
Retail Connections: You recently re-launched The Sole Supplier app. What are the top three aims of this channel for The Sole Supplier?
George Sullivan (GS): The overarching mission for The Sole Supplier is to become the largest lifestyle destination for casual footwear in the world. The Sole Supplier app provides a lightning fast way to keep up with the latest rumours and release dates on the go, as well as access to buy different types of product including high heat shoes that sell out fast as well as the best general releases.
The three main aims of The Sole Supplier are as follows:
- Help users find the right pair of trainers without leaving the app.
- Provide breaking news to users before anyone else.
- Tailor information to the individual and what they like e.g. you are a UK Size 7, you will then get news and products that can fit you.
RC: In what ways do you leverage customer data to drive your business model?
“With The Sole Supplier app, our unique selling point to our users is that it’s a tool they can use to cut through the noise and find what they’re really interested in.”
GS: Our goal with customer data is to understand what brands and types of trainers people like at an individual level and allow us to provide them with tailored messages.
In the modern world, people are constantly being bombarded by annoying marketing materials from brands which they’ve either signed up to or not. Even on social media, feeds are being interrupted by so-called “targeted ads”. To get customers to sit up and take note, quality and relevant messaging is key.
With The Sole Supplier app, our unique selling point to our users is that it’s a tool they can use to cut through the noise and find what they’re really interested in. For example, if James is looking for a UK Size 10 in the latest black Nike Vapormax, but his size is sold out, he’ll get a push notification straight to his phone when his size comes back in stock and he can click through to buy right there and then.
RC: What plans do you have to use AI/predictive analytics as part of your platform?
GS: This is a very exciting technology for the online retail sector at the moment and it’s something I’m personally very interested in. As a business, we do not currently use AI as part of our platforms but – spoiler alert – its something we’re looking to offer our customers in the near future to make the experience of finding the perfect pair of trainers even faster and enjoyable.
RC: Do you share data with brands and manufacturers as part of their customer-focused supply chain? If not, is this an aim in the future?
“…last year the website had over 25 million visitors. In order to protect our reputation and attract even more users, we’re very clear we won’t sell or share their data to brands or retailers.”
GS: The Sole Supplier has worked hard to earn the trust and respect of its community, which continues to grow year-on-year. In fact, last year the website had over 25 million visitors. In order to protect our reputation and attract even more users, we’re very clear we won’t sell or share their data to brands or retailers. When working with external partners, we only ever share anonymised “audience” data with them so no one person can be singled out or contacted. At the end of the day, our decisions are always for the benefit of our users and not the brands selling to them.
RC: How important is personalisation for The Sole Supplier and how granular is your personalisation model?
GS: Navigating through the casual footwear market can be difficult for consumers, with new releases announced every week. Through The Sole Supplier website and app, we’re trying to make the whole process of finding the perfect pair easier by filtering results by brand, colour and size.
Our app is particularly good at delivering the most relevant content to users based on their preferences which they can update at any point.
RC: To what extent do you pass discounts on to consumers?
GS: At The Sole Supplier, we provide our community with direct links to buy the latest trainer drops before they sell out; it’s not our model to offer pairs at a discounted rate. However, we do try to save our customers money where we can, linking them to all the sellers we know have them in stock and notifying them of any promo codes we know are circulating.
This activity ramps up for us around Black Friday and Boxing Day sales, where we push as much discount information as we can out via our website, app and social channels. Occasionally, we also team up with brands and retailers to offer our community exclusive discounts which they can’t get anywhere else.
Want to know more about The Sole Supplier? Or how you can use their stella new app? Find them on their website www.thesolesupplier.co.uk