Barefoot Shoe Innovator Bucks Tradition to Sprint Ahead

Barney Beal, Former Content Director

June 13, 2018

To take the next step forward on an ambitious plan to double its revenue this year and grow to £100 million within the next five years, executives at VIVOBAREFOOT(opens in new tab) knew they needed to make some changes to both their processes and systems.

An Unlikely Founder for a Barefoot Shoe Company

The global barefoot shoe company had an unusual beginning. VIVOBAREFOOT was founded by Galahad Clark and his cousin Asher Clark, descendants of the Quaker brothers who founded Clark Shoes seven generations ago. While shoes were the family business, Galahad and Asher had a fascination with going barefoot, particularly after a friend learned he could eliminate the pain he felt when playing tennis by going barefoot. They formed VIVOBAREFOOT with a mission to change the footwear industry based on one simple insight—shoes should let your feet do their natural thing. Every shoe features a patented, ultra-thin, puncture-resistant sole that protects the foot and allows maximum sensory feedback.

From Algae Blooms to IoT-enabled, Shoe Innovation Drives Growth

Spurred in part by the fascination with barefoot running in the United States, VIVOBAREFOOT grew rapidly. Today, it sells roughly 100 different types of shoes with manufacturing conducted primarily in China, Portugal, where it makes its higher end products, and Ethiopia, as part of a fair trade social project. Recently, VIVOBAREFOOT has added a vegan line of shoes, an Internet of Things-based smart shoe(opens in new tab) and an amphibious adventure shoe(opens in new tab) made of Algae, not only ending the reliance on petrochemicals traditionally used in shoes, but also removing harmful freshwater algae.

Can a Shoemaker Make the Switch from Distribution to Ecommerce?

Amidst its growth, VIVOBAREFOOT realized that in order to continue its trajectory, realize the greatest possible margins on its products and maintain control over its brand and customer experience, it would need to focus on ecommerce(opens in new tab) and buck the longstanding history of the shoe business – either own the stores or be a wholesale distributor. With a flagship store in London, and 20 franchisees in Europe, VIVOBAREFOOT maintains a retail presence, but it has rapidly expanded online, including through marketplaces like Amazon and Zappos and with its own consumer website. In 2012, VIVOBAREFOOT sold 6,000 pairs of shoes online. In 2017, it sold 120,000 pairs.

VIVOBAREFOOT Sprints into the Cloud

Yet, the company’s existing systems, which included Prima for inventory and order management, Sage 50 for financials and Divendo for ecommerce could not handle the growth. The Prima system was out of date and costly to upgrade, reconciling data was a cumbersome, error prone manual process and everything required in-house IT support. VIVOBAREFOOT wanted a unified, cloud-based system that would facilitate interactions with the Chinese operations and accelerate the company’s next stage of growth. After evaluating SAP BusinessOne, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Sage 200, VIVOBAREFOOT selected NetSuite for its native cloud architecture and comprehensive scope. It went live on NetSuite’s order and inventory management in June 2017 and is scheduled to go live on financials this June.

“NetSuite is incredibly flexible and the level of support we’ve had during the implementation has been fantastic,” said Damian Peat, Director of Operations at VIVOBAREFOOT. “The insights that will be available to us when we have the full NetSuite platform in place have us all excited for our next stage of growth.”

Learn more about NetSuite for apparel, footwear and accessories companies here(opens in new tab).

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.