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Shoemakers and the process of digital transformation

Even though it's not a new movement, digital transformation has been accelerated during the new coronavirus pandemic. The understanding is that it is a movement with no return. BCG consulting's survey of 200 global companies shows that 61% of respondents admit to having accelerated the process of digital transformation over the past year, while 96% of these expect to accelerate the execution of projects related to the area in the next 24 months. In the footwear sector, the reality is no different. More timid in the pre-pandemic years, digital transformation processes have gained momentum over the past year and are here to stay. The executive president of the Brazilian Association of Footwear Industries (Abicalçados), Haroldo Ferreira, assesses that the movement has been gaining strength in the shoemaking industry. "Years ago, shoe production was much more artisanal than it is today. Companies are investing, more and more, not only in communication actions on social media, but also in the digitalization of the production process, aiming at better competitiveness conditions”, he points out.

And there are many other cases of different companies in the footwear sector that corroborate the digital transformation movement. Check out some of them:

Kidy: innovation in DNA
Kidy, manufacturer of children's shoes from Birigui/SP, has always been at the forefront when it comes to innovation, especially when it comes to playfulness for children. There is no shortage of sneakers with interactive games and shoes that turn into toys in the hands of children. But the pandemic has driven a new modality of innovation, also aimed at customer relations and direct sales.

As a way to face the difficulties imposed by Covid-19, the company has created a digital tool focused on helping in the marketing of products at the retail end and also to strengthen the relationship with the more than 10.5 thousand points of sale where it is present.

The product, created in July 2020, is Kidy de Vantagens, an app that is downloaded by the store seller and generates credits for each KIDY shoe sale, credit that can be exchanged for movie tickets and various products. ”It is a kind of Km de Vantagens, but a footwear one", compares the Marketing Manager of the company, Luciana Girotto.

The app was developed by a company created by the KIDY group itself four years ago, to develop interactive games that work with sneakers.
Today there are more than 4.5 thousand clerks registered throughout Brazil, and the goal is to reach 40 thousand by next year. In addition to credits, the salesperson also participates in prize draws.

Kidy's application, according to Luciana, has been attracting the attention of other companies, who want to have the same technology.
"As we created it for our own brands, we haven't thought about making it available for other companies”, she says.

In addition to boosting sales — more than 150 thousand pairs were sold through the app in a year — the tool allows the monitoring of the sell out in real time and guides media campaigns, because it allows the company to know the products they sell in each region of Brazil.

Vinci Shoes, "a technology company that sells shoes”
Born in a digital cradle in 2013, Vinci Shoes brought an innovative proposal to the footwear market in Brazil. Specializing in flats, the company has 70% of its revenue from its e-commerce and runs four physical stores — one in Porto Alegre, two in São Paulo and one in Rio de Janeiro — as a “support” of the operation.

As it develops products on demand, the company does not work with inventories and has no need for clearance sales, which favors the financial health of the business. "We were born with the digital first spirit, we often say that we are a technology company that makes shoes,” summarizes one of the directors of Vinci Shoes, Rodrigo Morsch.

In the digital sale model, the footwear is chosen on the website and produced in just three days by an exclusive partner in Estância Velha / RS and then shipped to any part of Brazil.

Morsch says that the first physical store was created four years after the company was founded in 2017. "We have 400, 500 pairs of shoes in the stores. In case the desired footwear is not available, the store makes the order through e-commerce and the customer receives the product at home, in a few days", explains Morsch, pointing out that there is also no grid break, any product will be available for sale.

The digital model, says the entrepreneur, has helped the company to go through the impacts of the pandemic of the new coronavirus. Even with the physical stores closed for much of last year, Vinci Shoes managed to maintain the same income of 2019, while the footwear sector, in general, suffered a drop of more than 18%. “In 2021, we have already grown 80% over the basis of last year and 2019, " celebrates Morsch.

Grendene focuses on technology
Innovation has always accompanied Grendene, so much so that the first virtual shoe store in Brazil was from the Melissa brand, in 2001. With 50 years completed in 2021, the footwear company from Farroupilha/RS, has digital transformation as one of the focuses of the business.

Movement that is structured in the business, technology, and culture tripod. The director of Melissa and Digital Business Operations at Grendene S/a, Paulo Antonio Pedó, says that all of the company's e-commerce operations have been internalized. “We’ve completed this process in February of this year. The initial idea was to finish in two years, but we accelerated the process and did it in ten months, " he says, saying that sales have increased a lot since going digital. The highlight in Grendene's digital transformation process is in the technology pillar, in which the company maintains a project focused on innovation: Bergamotta Labs.

Launched in February 2020, the project is a three-laboratory system that brings Grendene closer to the ecosystem of startups and open innovation. “We have an internal innovation process with people allocated exclusively for this project," Pedó says, saying that of the three laboratories, one is aimed at new ways of accessing the consumer; another for production; and a third for the development of solutions and products. Some of these projects that were born at Bergamotta Labs are already active, such as Nuar, which goes beyond the vegan sandal, 100% recyclable, with 38% pre-consumer recycled materials and 10% renewable sources such as vegetable oils and rice husk. Nuar is a brand and a digital platform in search of the best impact for people, planet, and animals.

Considered by Pedó the "main leg" of the tripod, the culture pillar is internally multiplied by the Grendene University. Currently, the company has more than 200 employees from the most varied areas as digital facilitators. They went through an empowerment process and now spread the digital culture at Grendene.

And all this digital transformation that has been developed by the company is allied to the production process that has been working with robots and industrial automation for more than six years.

Jorge Bischoff accelerated the digital transformation process
Going through the process of digital transformation since 2017, Bischoff Group, from Igrejinha/RS, sees the acceleration of this movement as a legacy of the pandemic. "Digital transformation is worked on in the culture of the company, with the engagement of our employees", points out Adriane Lopes dos Santos, director of Franchise Management and leader of the Digital Transformation Program of Bischoff Group.

According to her, in the last year, the company not only increased investments in its e-commerce but also boosted the relationship with shopkeepers throughout Brazil, especially with the 83 stores Jorge Bischoff franchised. “We were far away, but at the same time much more present in the day to day of the shops.

For the consumer, in March last year we created Prateleira Infinita, allowing them to buy online and get the product in a physical store, where they can have a differentiated experience,” says Adriane. In addition to Prateleira Infinita, which played a key role in maintaining sales during sanitary restrictions, the company created ways to help sellers during the closing of commerce. The "Minha Jorge Bischoff" allowed that, with the use of a code, registered sellers could market Jorge Bischoff products, via e-commerce, while being paid commission. The group's Product Development area also went through significant transformations.

Adriane recalls that in August 2020, Bischoff Group adopted a new work platform that aims at full integration between its business network: the company, its industrial partners, stores, and Distribution Center. "From the creation of products (including their technical detailing) to logistics and sales, the use of a single system shares fundamental data between the links of the retail-production chain. The goal is to streamline and optimize the flow of processes, minimizing information conflict and bringing efficiency and greater control", evaluates the manager, emphasizing that the process is underway.

Luz da Lua sought expert advice
For about a year, the digital transformation movement has been part of the day-to-day of Luz da Lua, from Novo Hamburgo/RS. The footwear company, which has about a thousand employees, created a committee in June 2020 to discuss the digitization of the company. And since then, it has been moving forward in this process through consistent and safe steps.

The commercial director of the brand, Eduardo Smaniotto, says that several initiatives on several fronts have been created. “We hired an external consultancy to map all our processes. In times of tight margins and results, the result comes from increased efficiency and process optimization. So, although it is not digital “the first step was the analysis of the partners", he points out, saying that the consultancy continues to be carried out. Currently, the consultancy is in the phase of surveying requirements of the industrial area.

Smaniotto stresses that the company uses the most advanced technology, but those parts that still need adjustments will be attended after the conclusion of this step. “We are in the process of completing more adjustments in the production unit and we want to have more news soon.”

Another important point in the process of digital transformation of Luz da Lua is related to digital communication. At the end of 2019, the company changed its e-commerce platform and implemented a series of improvements that made it possible to increase the connection between the physical stores and the platform. "This allowed the saleswomen to make sales through the site and be paid for that. Some physical stores even managed to beat their sales goals with the help of this novelty, that made it possible to carry out online sales for physical stores”, emphasizes Smaniotto.

Another relevant movement has been the use of lives to mark the launch of the collections. “We have made our conventions fully digital and divided between our channels of action. Now, for example, we are able to reach multi-brand customers more closely and pass on the information we want,” says Smaniotto, stressing that the sale process continues to be face-to-face.

Suzana Santos increased investments in digital marketing
Following a digitization project that advanced with more timid steps and was basically made of data generation and social media, Suzana Santos, manufacturer of women's shoes from São João Batista/SC, increased investments in digital marketing in the last year.

The director of the brand, Suzana Santos, says that the company has pushed for the creation of an e-commerce for the final consumer and has also strengthened the relationship with shopkeepers, through training, conventions and regional showrooms, all of them online. “The strategy helped the factory, even with difficulties, to cross the entire period of the pandemic in full production, closing only according to the decree of the Government of Santa Catarina, for 15 days”, says the entrepreneur.

In addition, the closer approach with the shopkeeper, helped the company to understand an important change in consumer behavior. "Consumers began to look for more comfortable products, to wear while working from home. In this sense, we created a series of injected shoes, Prisma, which has had a good receptivity in the market”, says Suzana.

In the foreign market, Suzana points out that, instead of face-to-face fairs, the year was many digital events, in which the company has been maturing its participation.
"Digitalization has come to stay”" she concludes, pointing out that the company will continue to increase investments in the area in the coming years.

Marina Mello changed communication strategy
Manufacturer of women's shoes from Nova Serrana/MG, Marina Mello has always been attentive to transformations and changes in consumer behavior. “For a long time, we were present in large and renowned magazines, soon after in television commercials and today we realize that the impact of digital is increasing. That's why we started to invest more in digital content, working with renowned influencers”, says the director of Marketing, Rafaela Amaral Martins.

According to her, in addition to the greater investment in social media, the company also focused on digital transformation in the production process, more specifically in the area of creation and development of products. "Investments in digital transformation are constant”" she says, pointing out that the company is working on projects for even greater digitization in both B2C and B2B areas. "Soon we will have more good news” she concludes.