Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Kit Fox
ShoeKicker compares prices on more than 10,000 running shoe models, finding users the best online deal.
The newly launched website ShoeKicker is fast, exceptionally simple to use, and does exactly what specialty running stores fear.
Pitched as the “Orbitz” of running shoes, the site trawls the web to find the cheapest pair based on brand, model, and size.
The idea came to 25-year-old founder, Imran Khoja, while on a run in waning Mizuno Wave Inspires. He needed a new pair but couldn’t find a store in the area with the model in his size.
“I was getting desperate. I thought, this has to be a tech problem,” Khoja told Runner’s World Newswire. “These shoes have to exist somewhere on the Internet. What if there was a superfast way to scour the web to find them?”
On nights and weekends with the help of three friends this summer, he built a way.
ShoeKicker launched on August 15 with a searchable database that includes 14 shoe brands and 17 retailers. Factoring in size and width, the site can compare the prices of more than 10,000 different shoe models. Enter your current pair of shoes, and the site will show which retailer has the best price, linking you to the store’s website to make the purchase. For runners that know exactly the pair they need, the whole process takes less than five seconds.
That strikes a nerve in specialty running store owners.
“When I first heard about it, honestly I was not happy,” Kris Hartner, the owner of Naperville Running Company in Illinois, told Newswire. “This doesn’t look good to independent running stores.”
Online shoe-hunting has become a sore spot for owners like Hartner, especially when runners use independent shops to find the right shoe but take their business online to make the final purchase. At first glance, Hartner assumed ShoeKicker was simply a sleeker, faster way to do exactly that.
In some ways, it is, but Khoja insists that’s not the main purpose of the site. In fact, he was a little surprised to hear running store owners were unhappy. “We have gotten really, really positive feedback from users,” Khoja said.
He said that’s because he built the site for people like him, who run in a specific, hard-to-find shoe model. But when he heard about the negative reaction form the independent store community, he connected with Hartner to see how ShoeKicker could coexist with local stores.
“From a running specialty store perspective, we spend a lot of time keeping our inventory current,” Hartner said. He explained that many of the deals found on websites are for older models, which means a result in a ShoeKicker search could be out of date. He also warned that the exact same model of shoes can fit differently, and you can never tell unless you try them on first. (Need to discover your next perfect running shoe? Try our Shoe Finder Tool.)
Khoja listented to Hartner’s feedback and is already planning ideas to work with specialty running stores. That may include locating the nearest store to buy a certain shoe, or including local stores’ inventories to the database, making it easier to find a rare size or style.
“Our job is to connect a runner to the best inventory, and if it happens that a specific model only exists in a specialty running store, we would love to point that runner to the local store,” Khoja said.
That conversation softened Hartner’s view on the site. He’s still wary, and cautions that runners looking to change brands or get their first pair of shoes should always test them out first. But he hopes sites like ShoeKicker can help brick and mortar stores expand their reach.
In its early stages though, ShoeKicker is geared toward the picky runner, who’s found the right shoe and plans to stick with it for a while. That’s why, in a way, Khoja built the website for himself.
“I was the first customer on the site,” he said. Khoja, who is headed to Stanford’s business school this fall, spent the summer with his colleagues planning, designing, and coding—all to find the elusive Mizuno Wave Inspires in his size. When the site became functional, it took him all of five seconds to do it.
And they were $20 off with free shipping.