Friday, 12 June 2015

Top 5 Mens Summer Shoes

Vans Aunthentic Trainers

As the warm summer evenings start to grow over at Mastershoe HQ we thought it time to start embracing the latest summer footwear.

I haven’t braved the flip flops to much this year so far as even when there has been a little sun it’s normally been accompanied by it annoying little friend (A.K.A the wind). All too often I’ve gotten up in the morning all excited by the glorious rays of warm embracing heat only to step outside the door before quickly retreating to the wardrobe for a few adjustments.

Following up from our post at the start of the week about a typical day in the office I braved the weather on Tuesday and wore my shorts and flip flops to the office, only be rewarded by spending the majority of the morning shivering in the corner! By lunchtime I was eyeing up my fleecy winter trousers. It’s fair to say I’m, a bit of a wimp with the cold. That isn’t because I don’t like the outdoors, I love it.. a walk in the hills or a stroll along the beach in the rain, it's great fun but if it isn’t too nice on the weather front then I like to be prepared and I like to be cosy. I am also proud to say I’ve finally put away my fleecy winter Wranglers. They’ve served me well for the past 6 months, I’ve broken them in. I’ve aged them and I feel they finally have a bit of a story behind them now and for less than £60 I'm delighted with the overall quality. They are a little worn and beaten but then that’s how I like my general everyday boots and they still have plenty of life in them.

TOMS Shoes and espadrilles Now I’m starting to look to the summer and this is the first year I’ve started to embrace the espadrilles look. I’ve always been a bit unsure of the TOM’s style and I think they are a bit of a marmite shoe but alongside the flip flop they’re perfect for summer use. You don’t need the socks, they’re breathable and I’ve been pretty impressed with their overall level of comfort.

So without further due here’s my top 5 men’s summer style compilation. Check it out. Let me know your thoughts and who knows maybe buy your dad a pair for father day next week, because after all everyone wants to look good.
K-Swiss Belmont in White Bone Reef - Rover Flip Flop - Grey Yellow - Mens
Timberland - Classic Boat - Rootbeer Brown Red - Mens TOMS - Classics Canvas - Olive Green - Mens Vans-Authentic-RumbaRed So coming in at number 5. We have the K-Swiss Belmont in White Bone. This classic style from the American Heritage sports brand is clean, simple and effective and will be perfect for a spot of summer tennis on a warm weekend.

In at Number 4 we have THE summer sandal. Made by Reef, the brand that lives for the beach these sandals have bundles of comfort and when it comes to the footbed, there's nothing else I’d rather have on my feet on a relaxing day by the pool. Plus when they have a built in bottle opener like the Fanning, seriously what more would you need?!

TOMS Classics Canvas make the podium in third place and these overly simple shoes are great for warm summer evenings. Maybe they’re better suited to the foreign climates, they still do a great job and even better is that every pair of shoes you buy means you’re also giving a pair to someone that needs them.

That leads us to the top 2. In second place is the Deck shoe. This style’s synonymous with the summer season. They’re suitable for warm sunny days on the beach, afternoons on the ocean, they do it all and with the stylish leather uppers they are just as suitable with jeans as they are with your swim shorts. We stock Chatham as well but my choice is the Timberland - Classic Boat Shoe in Rootbeer Brown.

That leaves us with the number 1 summer shoe for 2015, It’s bright, its clean and it’s bloody cool we’ve gone for the Vans Authentic. I don’t know anyone whose ever regretted owning a pair of these. On top of that everyone I know who has owned a pair has often owned 2 or 3.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A Morning In The Life Of A Mastershoe Employee

Lilo and Stitch
"BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!"... "Thump!....

That is how my working day starts. My smart phone sleep app screaming at me, and my closed fist drumming down on the pillow. This intuitive reflex is how this clever app registers I want 5 more minutes in bed. But today was different. Today the kittens were roaming and my partner had left the bedroom door open. Nothing quite says "your getting up now" then a playful scratch and a baby growl. It's not their fault, they wern't to know I would be caught in the cross-fire.
Lilo & Stitch both suited there names,
Lilo was the quiet one that frequently checked in for a stroke & a cuddle. Stitch would rather take this advantage and pounce on Lilo before kicking her in the head and trying to bite her ear off. But they were only 9 weeks old and being brother and sister I'm sure they love each other really.

I began to consume my daily measure of 'Lucky Charms' breakfast cereal, having recently discovered that B&M sell them for £2.99 (a whole £2 cheaper than Tesco). 
A small glass of OJ and a quick round-up of the kittens before leaving through the backgate and vacating my duty of kitten watch.

Today was Monday, so I thought the traffic would be bad. In my haste, I managed to leave even earlier than normal and ended up bypassing all the traffic.
The early bird really does get the worm.
I arrived in great time and parked in my normal space by the river Biss. Despite being earlier than normal, I still failed to beat my manager to the office. I'm sure she never actually leaves.

I walk through the front door and past the sealed ash tray, a gentle reminder of what life used to be like. I enter the office and perch on my chair adjusting the back support. First things first, I must write out today's job list. Glancing up at my cork notice board, I record todays tasks in my a4 notebook.


AM - E-mails -
   - Live Chat -
   - Webgains -
   - Price Changes -
   - Search Synonyms -
   - Store Stock Report -

PM - Photos
   - Other Colours Available
   - Price Checking
   - Blog/Social
   - Content

In addition to the normal jobs, each member of staff has a specialist job role. Mine happens to be website and IT maintenance. I like to call this a 'fall back' job for when/if the other streamlined jobs are completed, or if an emergency arises.

I begin by loading up my personal work e-mail and checking for any matters that need dealing with. I notice there are alot less than normal as I worked on the Saturday so only had one days worth of catching up. I read the usual Google account e-mails, and the weekly computer reports from around the company. I soon stumble across an e-mail informing me that Windows has introduced a new 'reservation' system for upgrading to Windows 10 for free.

Windows 10
My job will be to check everything we use in the company will be compatible with this upcoming update and plan in any maintenance and travel to accomodate this. I cycle through the normal weekly newsletters and twitter notifications, before checking and admiring our recently received positive reviews. It brings me great pleasure to see Mastershoe have achieved the number 1 spot on Trustpilot again, with Shoetique closely nipping at our heels.

Number 1 Shoe Retailer

Bristol's New Hetty Hoover
With the website only being managed by 3 members of staff, I feel we do offer that more personal experience to customers, and this seems to really show from our customers reviews. I notice another e-mail from Argos containing a tracking number for the new pink Hetty hoover ordered for our Bristol store. My last e-mail for attention, a stationary order from our Trowbridge shop. More post-it notes and some display tickets.

Mekk Poggio 2.0
By the time I have checked my e-mails and signed into Live Chat, Glen arrives on his Mekk Poggio 2.0 (the fancy name for his road bicycle). After the morning greetings and tea rounds, I begin to fully wake up. I start by doing the more mundane jobs, checking through webgains and cancelling commissions on orders that have been returned. Working through the list of affiliate applications and deciding which ones are relevant. Afterwards, I move on to the Store Stock report. This is simply a long list of all our products and the sizes shown by location. My task is to scroll through the list and highlight any items which have no sizes but are still active. Fortunately today there were no such problems.

Navigating to Gmail I check what e-mails we have waiting to be answered. Customer e-mails is one of the few things in this job that are generally unpredictable. Every day presents new questions and challenges. This morning I had 1 customer inquiring about our returns policy, a customer checking if we can obtain a certain size in a Skechers Go Walk, and an inquiry regarding whether or not we would recommend Buffalo shoes for workouts. For the record, I would not - Buffalo are more of a fashion shoe than a workout style. I dread to think of the potential injuries if you 'go over' in them during a workout due to the chunky clumpy sole unit.

Suddently a loud ringing indicated a live chat was incoming. I type the normal jolly greeting and ask how I may help. This unfortunate customer was concerned about a recent order for some Dr Marten boots. Recently the left boot had developed a loud squeeking sound which was driving him crazy.

"Usually these boots last me years but people are commenting on it when I walk. The squeeking is really noticeable."

I begin by offering my apologies and asking for his order number and place of purchase. He confirms the order was made online and is only 5 weeks old. I explain that isn't a problem and that we are happy to arrange a free return for a full refund. I generate a pre-paid return label and send it over the live chat direct. The customer is happy and continued to return his faulty pair before re-ordering. I mark the live chat on my form and state the inquiry and resolution.

"Morning Team! how is everyone doing today?". I turn my head and acknowledge one of the Managing Directors Rob. He places a small pile of paperwork on my desk containing price reductions and smiles at me.

Each day we have a team that scout the internet and record any items that need reducing. In the years of trading online, we have learned that a small independant company like ourselves need to be competitive to stand out from the crowd. This comes second to offering the best customer service possible. The trick is to put yourself in the customers shoes and empathise with there situation. If a customer asks a question, imagine you are that customer and what type/level of response would make you feel trusting and informed.

I begin working down the list of price reductions and amending them online before e-mailing the list to our stores for them to change the display tickets. After finishing the list and taking a couple of phone calls / live chats I receive a very important call from our Bristol shop.

"Keiran, our Royal Mail printer has stopped working and we have parcels waiting to go".

I decide to remote access the computer and begin investigating the possible cause. The printer is showing as online, but the print que is not moving.

"Try turning it off and on".

No luck, the print que is still stuck, and no labels were printing. I was just about to remove and re-install the printer when Tom notices the printer has ran out of labels... and they have none left. Now we start to panic. The time is 12:45 and Royal Mail are due to pick up the parcels in 90 minites, the parcels which currently have no labels/addresses attached to them. I begin going through the options in my head:

1. I could check if the stock is available in our warehouse and Trowbridge store and repick them all here? but then Bristol is allocated web orders after the warehouse and Trowbridge, so they will be the only store with the stock (else the order would have been assigned to Trowbridge already).

2. I could contact our Royal Mail account manager (who is based in Bristol) and see if he could drop a roll of labels in (its abit cheeky, but we did buy him a 'keep calm, i'm a postman' t-shirt for Christmas)

3. I could try and get hold of the collection driver and see if he can bring a roll of labels and linger in the shop for 15 minites whilst they print and attach them.

"RING RING", I answer the phone and its "Dominos Pizza" offering me a free garlic bread if I answer a short survey. Despite my rumbling tummy and the thought of a luxury free garlic pizza bread, I reluctantly refuse and explain that I'm busy. Now back to the voices in my head.

4. I could contact all the customers whose orders were in Bristol and inform them of the unfortunate delay in dispatch and get a roll of labels sent over to Bristol via Royal Mail Special delivery. We would also upgrade all the Bristol customers orders to next day free of charge.

5. Someone could drive a roll of labels over to the shop. Trowbridge to Bristol is 30 miles and can take anywhere from 50 minites to 2 hours depending on how bad the traffic is.

Then I have a brainwave. What if we printed the labels using there normal printer and sellotaped the printouts to the parcels. Aslong as the barcodes and addresses are legible they should be fine? I telephone the Royal Mail DMO helpdesk and check with them. They agree that as-long as the details are coherant everything should be fine. I get the Bristol shop to do this, and to check the barcodes scan using our EPOS till scanner. I then ask the warehouse to send over some labels on the next transfer van. Disaster averted.

Its 1'o'clock (my lunch time) and I decide to ring Dominos back. Fortunately they are still happy to offer me a free garlic bread with my pizza for completing a short survey.
I leave the office and walk into the town center, stopping off in the Trowbridge store to check how things are going. The shop tablet has turned itself off and is acting bizarre. I remove the kiosk screws and give the power cable a jiggle before turning it back on. It looks like an automatic update caused some issues with our kiosk app. After resolving the problem and refixing the tablet back into its enclosure, my Dominos is cooked and ready for collection.
I retreat back to the web office and consume my feast, and get ready for the exciting afternoon that awaits me.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Pams New Welly Boots

Winter Wellies

With the weather being a bit all over the place recently – brutally cold over Christmas, then really warm, wet, wild and windy and of course last night snow I thought todays blog should be about my new favourite welly boots.

We’ve stocked the Bogs brand for a while but I’ve never had a pair before, when my Hunters failed again in November I decided it was time for a change.  I’ll be honest is was a toss up between Muck Boots and Bogs, both have a good reputation and a neoprene lining which gives warmth, and good tread for traction in the mud. What swung it for me was Bogs have some wicked designs and I personally think wellies should be a bit fun to brighten up the days you are wearing them which are usually dull and grey.

So I went for Bogs.  They had their first dog walk outing on Christmas morning, it had been REALLY cold overnight so a hard frost on the ground and up the park it was beautiful, we were out early enough the trees were still white from the frost.  On Christmas Eve the weather had been much the same but I wore my Kanyons.  I LOVE my Kanyon boots but I found by the end of the walk my toes were freezing!! I have to say the following day wearing my Bogs my feet stayed toasty warm.

"I have quite wide feet and for me the Bogs have plenty of room whilst the stretchy neoprene shaft gives plenty of room to fit my jeans in but still hugs my legs at the top so no cold draughts."

My Bogs next outing was a few days later when it was much warmer and pouring with rain, the park had turned from beautifully white to a muddy quagmire, again my Bogs did a sterling job.  They had decent grip through the muddiest parts and though it was much warmer than my first trip out my feet didn’t get to hot, the worst bit was getting my gorgeous new boots covered in mud. 

Easily fixed by a quick wash down under the outside tap when we got home before leaving to dry out naturally and all ready for the repeat wet and muddy walk the next day.  I have worn my Bogs for every trip to the park since.

Their most recent trip was this morning, although I do own A LOT of pairs of shoes (the trouble with working for a footwear retailer) and in my loads of pairs of shoes I have at least 2 pairs of specific snow boots I thought I’d see what my Bogs were like in the snow.  To be fair we didn’t have a lot of snow last night and it did rain fairly early this morning so my snow test was more of a slush test but….the Bogs did good! I got to work and had dry, warm feet and didn’t slip over once on the way, quite an achievement this morning.

So if your normal wellies are wearing out and you are looking for a new pair why not check out Bogs Boots?