A little more than two years after the inauguration of its online shop, the blog-turned retailer Onygo now runs 25 girls-only footwear and accessory stores in grade A locations across Germany and maintains a social following of more than 145,000 Facebook fans and 26.7k Instagram followers.
We spoke to Onygo’s general manager Astrid Heinze about the legitimization of female-only shopping concepts, the personal touch of social media and the added-value of the retailer’s brick-and-mortar stores.
In the fashion world, more and more unisex collections see the light of day, sometimes coming from a political motivation. Why do you think now is the right time for a female only footwear-retailer?
Even though tendencies seem to be gender dissociated these days, the requests for brands focusing on girl power is not decreasing. There are still “female only” collections. Of course there are definitely a lot of influences from a unisex orientated design–especially in the sneaker world–but we feel that there are a lot of girls and women who feel most comfortable in a surrounding that addresses only them and their personal needs. A community where you meet and can exchange with like-minded people.
What is the difference between Onygo and footwear retailers that addresses all genders, when it comes to approaching customers?
Onygo has created an own world for trendy and fashion conscious young women. These women can identify with our assortment, the visual language and contents that are transported. We pick up movements in their environment and needs and address these in a multidimensional shopping experience. Furthermore our customers receive a competent and authentic consultant service as well as the opportunity to exchange with other females that feel the same and understand each other. With us, a customer does not buy shoes, but experiences an own, small world which offers her the greatest possible freedom to unfold as well as the highest possible fashion degree.
Before stores were opened, Onygo was a fashion blog. What significance does the blog have today?
The Onygo blog still has a high significance. Here, we can quickly address current hypes and interests. We consider the blog as a window to the world for women that are interested in footwear, fashion and lifestyle; but it also works as a mirror. The blog offers a 360 degree projection screen that goes far beyond footwear and shopping. Everything that is important to our customers can be found on the blog: we pick up any topics from music to the “girlfriend day” (“Freundinnentag”), lastly held in September, that are important to young women.
Which role do social media play when it comes to customer loyalty and marketing at Onygo?
For us, social media–including the blog–are the most important part when it comes to marketing and customer loyalty. Here you can get in direct touch with young women and react to requirements, critics and needs immediately. The smartphone as a medium for consumption and social media channels like Facebook and Instagram have high priority for our young clientele. Here they get the most input and feel personally addressed as a Facebook and Instagram feed is always adapted to personal interests. The quick flow of information is equivalent to the spirit of the current times. No matter if it is about new store releases or a blogger styling: social platforms are an inalienable marketing tool to transport emotions that we want to deliver.
You have quickly expanded your network of retail stores. Which is the most lucrative one?
We currently run 25 stores all over Germany, including an online shop. About rankings and sales we cannot provide any information.
Are there regional differences in terms of style and consumer behavior?
Concerning style and purchase behavior there are no significant regional differences. Of course there are always tendencies between cities–especially between urban and rural regions; but generally the style directions are the same. Our customers are well informed so it doesn’t play a greater role where they are from in Germany.
After hosting the Puma Fenty pop-up store in Berlin this spring, are there any further pop-up spaces planned for the future?
Thanks to the big success of the Puma Fenty pop-up we are very open towards further realizations–however the product always has to be of a central importance for the customer.
What do you keep an eye on when designing a store?
Our stores resemble a walk-in wardrobe; a private and intimate room that every woman feels comfortable in and wishes to own for herself. Pleasant lightning, high-quality equipment, comfortable lounge furniture with free Wi-Fi and a range of desirable shoes make the shopping experience at Onygo to an event that every woman should enjoy.
How do you deal with the digitalization of the POS?
Off- and online are closely connected with each other in all spheres of life. Onygo makes no exception. We offer a “ship to home” service, operate different online shop terminals in all stores and provide free Wi-Fi for all customers. We are continually working on new ideas and technologies–as long as they place our customers in the center and simplify the buying process for them or make it more experience able.
What is the biggest challenge for the retail market in your opinion?
Especially because of the digitalization and success of the online business, it is important for us to add a real additional value for customers when shopping in-store. Here, we bet on a multi-sensoral experience and well-being. There are for instance visual appeals like a detailed staged product presentation, sounds by our dedicated store playlist and last but not least warm-hearted personal styling consultants that you cannot experience online.
Which footwear trends do you see for the future?
Concerning footwear trends, our customers become more and more courageous–both when it comes to elegant, feminine looks, but also rocky styles with rivets and company. Women increasingly attach importance to that special something once again–no matter if they want to be styled casually or elegantly. Detail embellished looks play an important role as well as orientation towards the products’ durability and quality. Concerning sneakers there are tendencies to the “heritage”-inspired style which means that old silhouettes are adapted to current times in materiality and functionality. Back to the roots, so to say, but still future- orientated.