Providing high-tech solutions for high-quality shoes
"For us, our business is about selecting the right partners, says Colin Hall, chief marketing officer at Allen Edmonds. We carefully evaluate every vendor we choose, from our leather suppliers to our shipping company."
Established in 1922, Allen Edmonds has a rich heritage in the footwear industry. From humble beginnings in a Wisconsin workshop, Allen Edmonds has grown to become a top name for quality and excellence, and today, the company sells approximately half-a-million shoes each year in the United States and abroad.
Creating a great shoe begins with high-quality materials. Allen Edmonds searches around the world for the finest leathers worthy of the Allen Edmonds name.
“A big part of our business is sourcing the best leathers possible,” says Colin Hall, chief marketing officer at Allen Edmonds. “These leathers come from the finest tanneriers in the world, including Italy, France and the USA for cordovan. By the time a customer receives his shoes, they may have already traveled farther than he will ever travel in them.”
However, despite the company’s worldwide reach, Allen Edmonds continues to keep its manufacturing process in the United States. This allows the company to react quickly to customer needs and ensure excellence.
Allen Edmonds is committed to exceptional service and the lasting quality of its products. The company stands by its shoes, no matter what their age, by offering a RecraftingTM service to restore worn out shoes to a nearly new condition. This 38-step process includes refinishing the leather and replacing the sole, heel, stitching and heated cork comfort layer.
The Recrafting process serves approximately 50,000 shoes each year, making Allen Edmonds the largest cobbler in the world. It’s vitally important that the process be as efficient and transparent as possible.
Renew, Restore, Reuse
In 2007, Allen Edmonds began searching for ways to streamline its Recrafting process while providing the highest level of customer service.
The worn shoes must be returned to Allen Edmonds’ primary manufacturing facility in Port Washington, Wisconsin. The company’s previous shipping carrier required all orders to be submitted manually. Customers mailed their shoes along with a form that required handwritten notes, describing their request and contact information.
This process was slow and prone to errors. For instance, when a shoe arrived at the warehouse for Recrafting, the hand-written customer information had to be manually keyed into a computer This process took up to 60 seconds per shoe. It could take even longer if the customer’s handwriting was difficult to read. The company restores nearly 300 shoes daily, so those seconds added up quickly. They cost the company approximately five labor hours every single day.
The previous shipping carrier did not provide tracking numbers for any shipments. When a customer inquired about the status of a shipment, Allen Edmonds could not determine where it was in transit. This situation became even more complicated if shipments were late or missing.
Allen Edmonds was only able to make one point of contact with the customer, right before the refinished shoes were returned. This left customers anxious as they waited to hear about the status of their orders for several days or weeks.
New technology is a step in the right direction
Allen Edmonds needed a carrier that could provide high-quality service and high-tech solutions to meet its changing and growing needs, so it called on UPS.
UPS offered Returns on the Web®, an online tool that processes order information electronically. Now, staff just scan the shipping label as shoes arrive to gather all the needed customer data.
The order is processed instantly. Customers receive automatic emails when their shipments are checked into the Recrafting process, so they stay informed as they wait for their new shoes. Plus, Allen Edmonds’ staff has saved time and reduced errors from re-keyed information, misread handwriting and absent customer information.
Allen Edmonds takes “before” and “after” photos of every pair of Recrafted shoes. Once an order is complete, the company e-mails the photos, tracking information and a personalized message to the customer. This lets him know the Recrafting process is complete and his shoes are being shipped. The e-mail also contains a video of the Recrafting process.This personal touch gets customers excited about their shoes and underscores the care that Allen Edmonds gives to its craft.
The new system has increased efficiency and accuracy as well as provided peace of mind to both Allen Edmonds and its customers.
“It’s a phenomenal customer service tool for us,” says Hall. “We’re even starting to see our emails and videos go viral. Customers are passing along the video and sending messages to their friends about our great service. A recent blog compared our customer service to that of Apple!”
In addition to improved technology tools, UPS provided tracking and better time in-transit than the previous carrier. The sending and receiving part of the process was cut down to one week, rather than several.
Plus, customers can now prepare shipments directly from the Allen Edmonds Web site and check on inbound shipment status, a feature enabled by UPS.
With UPS Returns on the Web, customers prepare shipping labels online and print them at home. The program is integrated into the Allen Edmonds Web site, creating a seamless customer experience. Once they print a shipping label, customers take the package to a UPS drop box, driver, customer counter or UPS Store®. With more access points in the United States than any other delivery company, UPS provides convenience to all of Allen Edmonds’ customers, nationwide.
“For us, our business is about selecting the right partners,” says Hall. “We carefully evaluate every vendor we choose, from our leather suppliers to our shipping company.”