When Imbox Protection was launched in Denmark in 2011, Imbox Protection’s goal was to provide a more environmentally friendly and “convenient” solution to shoe protection. Nearly a decade later, the company today sells more than 27 million spray treatments annually through retail partners including Deichmann and The Athlete’s Foot.
Oliver Headey, Regional Director, Imbox Protection Inc. In North America, the company’s success in Europe and Japan “is a clear sign that the consumer is happy to spend a few extra dollars to protect their new investment.” He added, “We know that the American consumer also values convenience and ranks first when it comes to in-store services. This is why the American market was the natural next step for us.”
The Imbox treatment works on all types of footwear, including dress shoes, athletic shoes, and hiking shoes. The company’s machine is a sealed box with four sprayers and a scanner to ensure a complete coating of the shoe pattern being processed. In a 60-second treatment, these nozzles spray shoes with an organic, water-based solution that prevents shoes from showing signs of ageing — including damage, staining, and fading from snow, dirt, salt and UV rays.
“The shoes will get an even layer of protection, which reduces the potential for stain loss, which is more likely to occur when spraying with a handheld spray,” Headey told Sourcing Journal. “In addition, the Imbox has heating elements that enable a faster drying process, so the consumer can immediately put on the treated shoes and have them fully functional.”
The protective properties last for six weeks. To extend this effect, customers can purchase aerosol sprays, which help increase sales of accessories and shoe care by 50 percent at participating stores. “Many might also think that Imbox will reduce sales of classic atomizers, but our partners have seen a slight increase in sales of classic shoe care products,” Hede said. “During the 60-second treatment procedure, sales personnel can contact the consumer and suggest accessories or other shoe care products.”
Shoppers can also come back for more Imbox treatments; Partner retailers saw an increase of up to 12 percent in return visits.
“Since introducing the Imbox Protection System across our stores, we have seen a huge proliferation in both outdoor and running footwear,” said Andrew White, Retail Director, Outdoor & Cycle Concepts LTD/Runners Need. “Our customers appreciate the convenience of protecting their shoes at the point of sale and the opportunity to return periodically for further treatment to continue protecting their investment.”
In addition to accessory sales, Imbox Treatments itself creates additional revenue opportunities for retailers. The company’s partner stores tend to give Imbox treatments to about 40 percent of all shoes purchased. Ultimately, clients choose preventative treatment 80 percent of the time.
Imbox works on a rental model. The company installs the machines and trains the dealer’s store staff to use and promote the machine. The Imbox launched in the US has a 24-inch screen that enables a shopper to see their shoes in action in real time. This screen can also run promotional materials, creating another point of contact for brand engagement. The device also captures store data, such as the types of shoes that were processed.
“It’s common to think that the treatment would be primarily for classic, expensive shoes, but over the past three to four years, we’ve discovered that the Imbox treatment works well and sells well for all types of shoes—particularly given the all-season protection,” Heidi said. They work well for classic, athletic shoes, athletic shoes, and outdoor shoes.”