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Caleres Strives for Efficiency to Get Customers What They Want


Caleres represents footwear brands that are available in all channels of the global marketplace today.

If there is anything people are looking for these days, it is convenience. Footwear company Caleres Inc. is prepared to offer it with its global sourcing network, distribution facilities, and focus on speed to market and efficiency.

“Combined, this allows us to deliver the footwear our customers want, when they want it, where they want it,” Caleres says. Based in St. Louis, Caleres represents footwear brands that are available in all channels of the global marketplace today.

These include more than 1,200 branded retail locations, department and specialty stores, branded e-commerce sites and third-party retail sites. “Our brand collections have been developed and acquired to meet the evolving needs of today’s assorted and growing audiences,” Caleres says.

Today, its brands include Famous Footwear, Sam Edelman, Naturalizer, Allen Edmonds, Vionic and Dr. Scholl’s Shoes. While Caleres has a long legacy of craftsmanship, “Our next chapters are being written through investments in technology, trend research, manufacturing, sustainability, sourcing and the brilliant people who will lead us into the future — helping Caleres deliver the strongest, most-desired brand portfolio in the market,” it says.

Making it Work

One of the key portions of Caleres’ supply chain is its global sourcing network, which helps the company find the right manufacturing partners for its products. “Our sourcing teams are clustered by brand category to ensure the expertise and technical attention to detail necessary to make great shoes — always with a ferocious passion for fit and quality and an ongoing commitment to responsible sourcing and sustainability,” it says.

Another key portion is comprised of its state-of-the-art distribution centers. Between 2016 and 2019, Caleres invested more than $75 million in the locations, which included the addition of automation for processing, packing and shipping with speed and efficiency.

Currently, the company has three distribution centers in southern California, one in Tennessee and another in Ontario, Canada. Together, the locations process more than 80 million pairs annually for its wholesale and retail operations.

Caleres’ newest locations in Chino, Calif., can process 400,000 pairs daily and house more than 10 million pairs at a single time. 

They also have “the ability to ship case packs or loose pairs to our wholesale partners and drop-ship directly to customers,” it says. “Nearly 700 dedicated associates in logistics, distribution and transportation make this complex and sophisticated system work.”

An Integration Partner

A major contributor to Caleres’ success is LaFayette Engineering Inc., a provider of sortation, Conveyor Works, pick/pack, high-speed merge racking, print and apply solutions based in Danville, Ky. According to owner Bruce Robbins, the company values integrity.

“We strive to provide honest solutions to help your buildings reach its full potential,” he said in a statement. “Our goal is to become a valued business partner and your first choice for all your integration needs.”

LaFayette’s success stories include a material-handling storage and sortation project for Caleres in Chino. Today, product storage racking helps the company have products ready to process. Conveyors also allow Caleres to flow bulk cartons to decasing and then have pairs flowed to its sorter, before they are packed to be shipped. 

A Complex Industry

Caleres is a member of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), a trade organization governed and directed by footwear executives. According to the association, members include a majority of U.S. footwear manufacturers, brands, retailers and importers.

Currently, it says, 99 percent of all shoes in the United States are imported, which resulted in 2.5 billion pairs being imported last year. “That amounts to an average 7.5 pairs of shoes for every man, woman and child in [America] in just one year,” it says.

Today, China is the largest source country for American imports, which consists of 49.8 percent in dollar terms and 66.6 percent in volume terms of all imports. But footwear sourcing, FDRA notes, has become increasingly complicated as manufacturing shifts around the world.

“Social compliance and factory performance issues also continue to be a priority for the footwear industry,” the footwear industry association explains. “As a result, FDRA has developed robust sourcing and compliance programs aimed at helping footwear sourcing and compliance executives and managers understand shifts and trends, and how to best address challenges.”