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thriving global market for luxury goods.
He founded Luxury Shoe Club in 2015, and says he’s bootstrapped the business without outside investment so far. The site went live Tuesday. It currently has about 50 members and lists about 150 pairs of shoes from designers such as Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, and Valentino.
Luxury Shoe Club users buy one of three membership tiers: $49, $99, and $149. The different levels provides various benefits to members, for example free boxes and shipping, discounts of shoe repair, and bonus club points. Users pay Luxury Shoe Club an additional fee of $5 to $15 per transaction, depending on their membership level.
Van Valkenburgh says the startup has developed a pricing algorithm to determine the value of the shoes from data scraped from information on about 100,000 online footwear purchases. This algorithm determines the price at which a seller can offer shoes. “People can window shop to see what their shoes are worth,” he says.
Counterfeit products can make some customers wary of buying from strangers, especially online. Counterfeit and pirated imports are estimated to be worth nearly half a trillion dollars, or around 2.5 percent of global imports, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
But Van Valkenburgh says he believes the startup’s points system—points are more easily returned than cash—and a 7-day return policy can help dissuade fraudsters. “We allow members to report and there’s a three-strike rule,” he says. “We watch the trading activity and monitor it like credit cards do. We look for odd behavior patterns.”
Going forward, Van Valkenburgh says he plans to create clubs for handbags and watches. In the meantime, he says he hopes to create a “book club” atmosphere among the startup’s largely female clientele by connecting them via Instagram circles and other social connections.