Top 16 Profitable Shoe Business Ideas [2024]


Have you settled down with the footwear industry and now want to find a unique niche to make the best of this potent industry? If so, you are coming to the right place, as we’ve wrapped up the 16 shoe business ideas to get you started in no time.

Here is a sneak peek of what today’s article will cover:

  • Overview of the shoe industry
  • 16 most successful shoe business ideas to get you inspired

1. Overview of the shoe business

Did you know that according to Statista, the global revenue of the footwear industry will exceed $100 billion for the first time in 2024 and reach $126.3 billion by the end of 2027? Therefore, if you are still tentative and seeking validation, rest assured that a shoe business is highly profitable.

However, if you are a newbie with no branding yet, we highly advise you to get started with a specific niche and scale up later. This is because customers tend to trust stores that are more specialized.

But don’t worry! We’ve got your back with the 16 most promising shoe business ideas below.

2. 16 Most successful shoe business ideas 


2.1. Custom shoe design shop

If you have a knack for creating personalized shoes that are tailored to your customers’ styles and preferences, you should consider launching a custom shoe design shop.

With this business idea, your customers will be the ones in charge of choosing the materials, colors, patterns, etc., or simply the style and vibe they want to achieve. Your job is turning their “dreams” into reality.

A custom shoe design shop is one of the best footwear business ideas since it taps into your customers’ individuality and self-expression, allowing you to price your products higher and have better profit margins.

+ Better profit margin
+ More enhanced customer loyalty if you meet your customers’ requests
+Higher lifetime value per customer
– High production costs for customization
– Can be time-consuming to customize each piece of shoes
– Require skilled artists, leading to high employee cost

2.2. Athletic (sport) shoe store


Next up, we have the athletic shoe store, also known as a sports shoe store, which mainly focuses on selling footwear that meets both performance and style.

With the ever-growing demand for comfortable, specialized shoes designed for various sports activities like running, basketball, soccer, etc., an athletic shoe store is one of the most potential shoe business ideas you should look into.

For instance, ‘big fish’ like Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc., have established themselves as the most successful athletic shoe businesses worldwide. Not only do they cater to different sports, but they also offer shoes for various fitness levels – from beginners to professional athletes. 

+ There’s a vast market
+ Sports shoe trends change frequently, encouraging customers to buy new pairs regularly. 
+ Brand collaborations with athletes and celebrities create a buzz, boosting sales.
– There’s stiff competition, not just from physical but also from online retailers. 
– The sports shoe industry heavily relies on innovation, which requires significant investment in R&D

2.3. Shoe repair service

If you are concerned about the impact of fast fashion on the environment while running your shoe business, we have a perfect idea up our sleeves– launching a shoe repair service. 

By offering services like sole replacement, stitching, cleaning, and refurbishing, you not only reduce waste but also resonate with customers aiming to make more environmentally friendly and affordable choices.

+ People will always need shoe repairs
+ Repairing can often be cheaper than replacing an entire pair of good-quality shoes
– The service might struggle in areas dominated by a disposable, fast-fashion mentality.
– The job might demand superb craftsmanship and attention to detail

2.4. Shoe rental service

Have you ever wanted to put your feet into a pair of designer shoes you love so much without breaking the bank? A shoe rental service allows just that. This innovative business idea offers a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to traditional shoe ownership models.

Instead of having to pay for pairs of shoes they seldom wear (e.g. wedding or hiking shoes), you empower your customers to try on stunning shoes at much more affordable prices. Not to mention that the rental model promotes environmental sustainability and reduces waste. So, if you target environmentally conscious consumers as well, rental service is one of the best shoe business ideas worth considering.

+ More affordable choices for your customers
+ Your customers can try diverse, high-end styles 
+ No need to store seldom-worn pairs.
– Your shoes could easily get damaged
– The rented shoes may have visible signs of usage, which could turn off some customers.

2.5. Online shoe store


Are you on a tight budget but still want to launch a shoe shop anyway? If so, there are no better shoe business ideas than setting up an online store selling your footwear pieces.

The biggest perk of running an online shoe store is that you won’t have to worry about the excruciating overhead costs of running a physical store. Instead, all you need is a stunning and functional eCommerce website. 

You could create your store on marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, etc., or create your own eCommerce website using Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc. The choice depends on your demand and budget.

+ Low starting cost
+ You can easily build your online store using platforms like Shopify, Wix or list your products on Etsy.
+ You can manage your business from home
– The online market for footwear can be competitive
– It will be tough to make your first orders if you have no branding yet
– You’d have to put tons of effort into marketing

2.6. Shoe resale model

Launching a shoe business that produces and sells your own manufactured products will allow you to have full control over the COGS. However, you’d need substantial investment upfront. That’s why the majority of shoe business owners choose the re-sale model.

With this model, you source your products from shoe suppliers at low cost and re-sell them at higher prices to earn the difference. To maintain a healthy profit margin with the resale model, make sure you find suppliers that can offer you the best prices.

You can browse online marketplaces like AliExpress, thrift stores, and even direct purchases from individuals whom you can trust.

+ Flexibility in sourcing inventory from various channels.
+ Potential for high profitability by selling popular or rare shoe brands.
– Competition from other resellers can be fierce.
– Requires thorough knowledge of shoe brands, trends, and market demand.

2.7. Children’s shoe store

Children grow up and outgrow their shoes rapidly. Hence, if you are dead-set on launching a profitable shoe business, doing a children’s shoe store is a no-brainer. 

You can source shoes from reputable suppliers (e.g. on AliExpress, SaleHoo, etc.) or consider designing and manufacturing your own line if you have lots of investment upfront.

+ Higher repeat purchases as children outgrow their shoes quickly
+ You’ll likely have good margins as parents are willing to invest in quality, comfortable shoes for their children.
– You might have to meet product safety regulations in some regions
– Limited product range compared to adult shoe stores

2.8. Sneaker line production


Do you admire big brands in the footwear industry like Allbirds, Nike, or Adidas and aspire to follow their footsteps to build an empire of your own? Creating a sneaker line production is one of the most profitable sneaker business ideas we’d love to suggest to you.

With this model, you take care of everything since your shoes are just raw materials until they get distributed and purchased at your retail outlets. Though it requires a high starting cost, line production will give you complete control over your product’s prices, desired quality, distribution channels, and so on.

+ You have full control over your entire business operations
+ If you manufacture on a large scale, you can reduce the COGS, increasing your profit margins
+ If you succeed, you can scale up your business very quickly
– The manufacturing cost can easily get out of hand
– You will need a huge investment upfront
– Can be challenging to compete with big shoe brands that have been in the industry forever (Nike, Adidas, etc.)

2.9. Shoe cleaning (polishing) service

Besides repairing and rental services, if you are into the idea of offering shoe-related services instead of selling them, shoe polishing service is one of the most potential shoe business ideas you shouldn’t miss out on.

The incredible part about this shoe business idea is that you can easily start a profitable shoe business without much monetary investment. This is because all you need is cleaning equipment and supplies that can be bought for less than $100.

+ Low entry barrier 
+ Good profit margins as the supplies are not expensive and the equipment can be used for a very long time
– Can be labor-intensive
– Might be seasonal, with the services selling better in the rainy season
– Might be hard to scale up as you can only serve the nearby locals

2.10. Factory shoe outlet store


If you want to manufacture your own branded shoes and sell them to customers without any other third-party intermediaries (retailers, re-sellers, etc.), you should think of starting a factory shoe outlet store.

What makes starting a factory outlet one of the most amazing shoe business ideas is that you can offer customers the best prices, thereby boosting your sales. Not to mention that you’ll also have better control over your produced shoes’ quality, and stock.

+ The ability to offer your customers better prices 
+ Have better control over your products’ quality and quantity
+ Can build your branding better than distributing your shoes to retailers and letting them sell for you
– Like starting your production line, you’d need a high initial investment
– Fierce competition from well-known brands

2.11. Women’s shoe line


Whether you are a lady who can never get enough of stunning, fancy pairs of high-heels or a newbie who wants to start a shoe business but doesn’t know where to start yet, specializing in women’s shoe lines will hardly ever go wrong.

Starting a women’s shoe is among the most potential shoe business ideas as women tend to be passionate about their appearance. And that includes a nice pair of footwear that can match and accentuate their outfits.

Plus, women’s shoes also come in more shapes and sizes than men’s, like flats, heels, boots, pumps, etc. This allows you to better diversify your product range easily.

+ Women’s shoes are various with more types than men’s
+ Successful women’s shoe lines often have higher margins
+ Catering specifically to women allows you to focus your product design and marketing efforts
– Fiercely competitive
– Women’s shoe fashion can be volatile, requiring constant catching up with changing trends and seasonal demands

2.12. Men’s footwear line


If the women’s footwear line has such potential and allows you to offer more product types than men’s, why consider the men’s footwear line at all? Well, it’s simple– starting a men’s footwear line has its distinctive advantages as well.

First, men’s shoes often focus on durability and comfort, which can lead to a more straightforward manufacturing process compared to the delicate designs and variations seen in women’s footwear. 

Also, the men’s shoe market is generally less prone to frequent and drastic trend changes than the women’s shoe market, allowing you to better plan your inventory. 

+ Catering specifically to men allows you to focus your product design and marketing message easily
+ The men’s shoe market is less prone to trends
Better manage and plan inventory
– The product variety is not as wide as the women’s line
– Fiercely competitive

2.13. Consignment (used) shoe shop


This list would be incomplete without a consignment thrift shop– one of the most appealing shoe business ideas you should take into consideration. If this is the first time you’ve heard of this term, then let us clarify real quick.

When opening a consignment shoe shop, you allow individuals to bring their gently-used shoes to your shop for sale. You will then display and sell these shoes on behalf of the sellers and take a percentage of the final sale price as commissions.

If your consignment shoe shop is well-known, you might be able to earn quite a good income.

+ Low starting cost than production line or re-sale model
+ Low risks as you earn commissions on what you’ll sell
– Can be challenging to control the products’ quality
– The profit margin might not be high with a low commission rate
– Might be hard to ship internationally as the cost would eat into your commission

2.14. Wholesale supply model

Want to take the re-sale model to a much larger, “pro” scale? Opting for the wholesale supply model can be one of the most rewarding shoe business ideas on this list. 

As a wholesaler, you purchase a large quantity of shoes at lower prices per unit from manufacturers and then sell them to retailers at higher prices. As a result, you earn profits from the pricing differences. 

+ Cost-effective bulk purchasing leads to higher profit margins.
+ Access to a wide variety of shoes without the complexities of manufacturing.
+ You can negotiate deals and secure competitive pricing with manufacturers or distributors.
– Initial investment in bulk quantities may tie up capital.
– Inventory management challenges could arise with unsold or slow-moving stock.
– Dependence on suppliers for quality and timely deliveries.

2.15. Sandals store


It would be a big mistake to leave sandal stores out of this list. The appeal of a sandals store is that it can easily cater to a wide customer base seeking comfort, style, and functionality– be it someone who needs beach sandals, comfortable everyday wear, etc.

Thanks to its versatility, opening a sandals store is ranked among the best shoe business ideas.

+ Appeal to various demographics and fashion preferences.
+ High demand during warm weather or vacation seasons.
– Lower demand during colder seasons or in regions with cooler climates.
– Numerous retailers offer sandals, leading to market saturation.

2.16. Flip-flop store

And last but not least, launching a shoe business selling flip-flops can be one of the most interesting shoe business ideas worth trying. A flip-flop is a type of sandal with a Y-shaped strap that fits between the toes and without a strap at the heel, like sandals.

Flip-flops can sell like hotcakes as they are well-known for their casual, easy-to-wear style, ideal for warm weather and relaxed settings like the beaches. If you’re living in a region with warm weather, you won’t regret opening a flip-flop store.

+ The products are simple, requiring less time and effort for inventory management
+ High demand during warmer months and in beach or vacation destinations.
+ Generally priced at lower ranges, appealing to budget-conscious consumers.
– Reduced demand during colder seasons or in regions with cooler climates
– Some flip-flops may lack durability, potentially leading to negative customer experiences.

3. Final thoughts

All in all, the footwear industry is predicted to keep rising in the upcoming years. Hence, if you have the passion and dedication to launch a business of your own, we hope you can get some useful insights or inspiration from the 16 shoe business ideas we listed above.

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