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Q&A: Red Wing Shoe uses analytics to plot Canadian store growth

Red Wing Shoe Company is ramping up its store portfolio in the Great White North — and using customer data to choose the best markets.

For Red Wing, consumer analytics have become a mission-critical tool in the company’s expansion strategy.

“Analytics [usage] has significantly evolved for us over the last decade,” said Marisa Kinney, director of global real estate development at Red Wing Shoe Company. “Analytics are now core to our operations throughout the organization — including in our real estate strategy.”

The company operates 517 stores in North America, and in the last five years, has added 125 brick-and-mortar retail stores to its global portfolio, according to Kinney. Ready to bolster its presence in Canada, Red Wing is relying heavily on data analytics to more easily identify the markets where its brand could be most successful.

Kinney explained to Chain Store Age why analytics are important to its Canadian expansion.

What is Red Wing Shoe Company’s history with customer data and analytics?
Red Wing is rooted in data and facts. For many years we have used data, like demographics, Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes (four-digit codes that classify industries) and proximity to other retailers, to guide our decision-making.

As the basis for our real estate strategy, analytics enables us to take into consideration where consumers live, work and shop. We also layer on additional consumer details, such as consumer behavior, and traffic and purchase patterns.

Not only does this information help us select the best markets for our retail locations, it also helps us provide our consumers with experiences that are tailored to how and when they prefer to interact with us.

How are customer data and analytics driving the company's Canadian growth?
We have been successful in using demographic, psychographic and behavioral characteristics to know who the consumer is in North America, as well as to find pockets of potential Red Wing consumers in Canada. We also relied heavily on trade area characteristics, the presence of businesses within our targeted categories, and our knowledge of Canadian safety footwear specifications to determine where our brands could be successful.

In addition to knowing and understanding Canadian safety requirements, businesses’ safety needs on job sites, and a lack of competition servicing the market also makes Canada a natural next step to sell our brands.

Going forward, we plan to replicate how we use consumer data within a trade area when planning new store growth in similar markets.

How will you leverage analytics going forward?
As we [use analytics to] learn more about how and where consumers want to interact with the Red Wing’s brands, we will see the evolution of e-commerce, stores in urban environments, store design, and personalized service complement each other, and ultimately drive performance. We continuously refine the analytical model, in addition to product merchandising, marketing and operations to further expand existing and new stores’ performance.

What is the next step with the technology?
Our retail expansion strategy is based on continually collecting information and analyzing existing consumer data, business safety requirements and retail trends. Knowing and intimately understanding which key variables will make a store successful — and marrying this information to the real estate requirements we’ve established — Red Wing will continue to see growth in our retail portfolio.

Red Wing, a retailer known for its work boots and purpose-built footwear, is one of many companies leveraging technology in its expansion and store design efforts. These include L’Occitane and Ulta Beauty, among others. These initiatives will be highlighted at this year’s SPECS Show 2019, March 3-5, at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas. (Click here to register for the conference.)
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