What is the hardest innovation challenge in business? Most businessperson look for a challenge or a need among consumers to establish a business model. However, creating this need out of thin air and getting a mass flock of consumers psyched about a business product can be a mark of a genius. Nohman Ahmed, the Co–founder and Director of Crep Protect, manages to achieve this feat day-in and day-out. Crep Protect is a shoe care brand that redefined the way consumers think about shoe care, taking an idea that very few even noticed in the shoe business. When Nohman looked at the shoe care consumer landscape, he realized that shoe care relied on shoe store staff forcing products down consumers’ throats to begin with. There was little enthusiasm and energy among consumers for shoe care. Nohman, with an uncommon vision, managed to turn Crep Protect into the second-fastest-growing firm in the UK in 2018. In 2019, he managed to conquer the larger Europe, making Crep Protect the seventh fastest-growing business in the region.
An Unbeatable Strategy
Nohman’s strategy for his business was simple. He notes, “We did what Red Bull did. Red Bull promises a lifestyle around its energy drink. We got premier footballers, and every single sneaker shows lifestyle worldwide.” The plan worked to give Crep Protect the edge they had sought. Crep Protect, despite its premium pricing, managed to change the perception in the industry to create a buzz around its products and shoe care as a whole. Today, Crep Protect has grown to over 52 countries worldwide, with 16 million sales in 2019. Despite the tremendous success of Crep Protect, Nohman never took his eye off the ball. After the tremendous success of Crep Protect, Nohman created another brand, Presentedby, a luxury sneaker and streetwear boutique to cater to the tremendous growth through e-commerce, and conventional retail. Today, the brand has become synonymous with luxury, and lifestyle in Paris, London, Dubai, and plans to launch new stores in Doha, Qatar, Riyadh, and Vegas.
Crep Protect promises to take the world of sneakers by storm in the next few years. The company has earned the authority to make shoes for world’s topmost brands, including Adidas. On behalf of its growing clout, the company has launched an online marketplace named ‘Click’. The marketplace caters to passionate lovers of sneakers by providing them with authenticated shoes from their favorite brands, including Nike, Adidas, Gucci, Prada, Puma, among a dozen others. Nohman achieved this with the same vision he had learned from marketing lessons at Red Bull. He has centered Crep Protect’s retail stores on the idea of lifestyle. The company has created some mind-blowing experiences for passionate lovers of sneakers and sneaker care globally with luxurious interiors. The amazing vision at Crep Protect has enabled the company to sell some of the best-branded signature sneakers to its consumers. Today, the brand sells sneakers for as little as from €300 all the way up to €150,000. Nohman notes, “Innovation is key to adapting to consumer trends. We want to drive consumer engagement with innovation, and excitement.”
An Inspiration Journey of Challenges
Despite the tremendous success of Crep Protect, its journey, like that of most businesses, was filled with challenges during covid-19. The businesses relied on retail stores to bring business, and the pandemic shut the door on retail businesses for a long time. However, Nohman tackled the crisis with intelligent innovation, despite a major hit on sales. Nohman guided the company to open new stores in countries like China, and Latin America, which diversified its consumer base to drive new growth. Furthermore, Nohman also relied on new innovative strategies to keep their retail business open for as long as possible during the pandemic. This included innovative aid of technology while eliminating redundancies. The pandemic also became a boon for Crep Protect, thanks to positive thinking adopted by its founder.
As the pandemic hit the brick and mortar stores hard, Nohman changed the strategy to drive business to its online marketplace. The strategy paid off handsomely, with speedy deliveries to the consumer. The pandemic also pushed the company to become more consumer-centric with a well-rounded approach to customer care. Nohman notes that the in-house creativity of Crep Protect remains its core strength to meet new challenges and drive innovation. The company undertakes all its PR, content creation, and marketing through in-house staff members, driving a real personal touch in its culture. Nohman asserts, “We are a consumer-centric business. The ability of our members to deliver a 360-degree skillset is what drives versatility, collaboration, and ultimately consumer-centric innovation, in our company culture.”
A State of the Art Innovation
Crep Protect has launched a new patented technology, which promises to be the future of sneaker care. The technology is a controlled environment created by a machine to cleanse shoes with cold frizzle technology inside a box. Crep Protect has brought the technology to its every retail store with a partnership with IMBOX. The clean technology offers better sustainability for shoes than outdoors, with state-of-the-art sneaker protection. Crep Protect monitors each machine remotely, with specific instructions on how much treatment to offer to each individual shoe. The technology isn’t just offering a much-needed convenience to consumers but also challenging the horizon of the future of shoe care. Crep Protect is yet to bring in an app, which it would provide every individual consumer with access and reward for taking care of their shoes. The company also has a strong reward system for its sales staff and complete transparency in its sales system. The top-performers at Crep Protect always remain motivated to take the company’s growth to new heights.
What does the Future Hold?
Nohman believes there is still tremendous opportunity for growth. He expresses, “The retail is undergoing a major change. Big brands are challenged to deliver something new, and fresh. We are constantly innovating to deliver that newness, innovation, and convenience”. Crep Protect has brought tremendous enthusiasm to shopping in global metropolitan areas with its new ideas. The company now offers cafes, cleaner drop-offs, and various other facilities to keep consumer engaged globally. This is the need of the hour for business in retail stores. Major retail brands continue to flock towards e-commerce, wherein value proposition isn’t the comfortable throne it used to be. On the other hand, traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are losing sales as big brands continue to flock to e-commerce. Team Crep Protect anticipates major changes in the retail business as big brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga flock to lifestyle-driven mall experiences like the ones offered by Crep Protect. Nohman is also prepared to take on this challenge with renewed vigor and major investments. He continues to lead with investments in customer-facing stores, dry-cleaning stations for shoes, shoe drop-off locations, and full-scale malls to take on the changing tide in the retail business. Nohman isn’t shy about his long-term ambition either. He says, “Our aspiration is to build a group of companies that are very influential within our space and to become a billion-dollar company.”
Crep Protect still has a long way to go before it reaches every home. However, there are major business dynamics that favor the resurgence of lifestyle retail. On the one hand, luxury remains a key draw for traditional retail globally. Furthermore, issues like the quality of material, and feel of the cloth, or the comfort of a shoe still remain key for a luxury buyer. This is despite the tremendous growth of e-commerce in conventional economic retail space. Maybe, Crep Protect has a few tricks up its sleeves that the business world fails to catch on easily.
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