Categoriesbarefoot shoes fairfashion LESS IS MORE sustainability

LESS IS MORE: The challenge of returns

We started selling barefoot shoes online, through a crowdfunding campaign, which allowed us to reach a global community from the very beginning of Mukishoes. Since day one, we established ourselves as an e-commerce business and while it makes it possible for us to find like minded people all over the world, we are also faced with many challenges.

One of those challenges is being compared and expected to compete with much bigger companies, who do things very differently from us, like offering free shipping and returns.

At this point in time, however, we cannot offer that regularly without raising our costs as well as our prices, because we are a small company that does not have the same shipping conditions as big brands or online platforms.

We have always accepted returns, even before launching our own online store, because we know that buying shoes isn’t an easy task, as every foot and person is different from the next, and sometimes choosing the right size for you takes more than measuring your feet carefully.

The textile industry has an alarming rate of returns when it comes to e-commerce – usually 30% of items bought online are returned. This is a weight not only on small enterprises but also an environmental issue we have to consider. 

Our team works every day to do better for the environment by reducing our waste and carbon footprint. When you make a purchase online, the parcel has to travel up to very long distances by road, train or even airplane. This parcel leaves a carbon footprint behind. Returning this or any other package doubles the financial and environmental costs.

Our returns rate has remained below the industry’s average due to our customers’ awareness. Still it takes a lot of time dealing with returns and their implications. That is why we felt the need to make returns one of the subjects in our Less is More series.

Buying several items online isn’t the same as going into a changing room and taking 10 items with the intention of leaving 8 of them behind. The logistics of online returns is much more complex than simply leaving items on a rack and waiting for a shop assistant to bring them back to their places. 

The time that we need for each pair of barefoot shoes that is returned to us to be put back in stock results in several days during which other customers can’t buy them. Please keep in mind that we have a small stock, with few pairs of shoes of the same model in the same size.

We are well aware that avoiding all returns is impossible, because shoe sizes aren’t the same across the board and sometimes items don’t match with expectations, but we want to lead by example and encourage our customers to make conscious purchases instead of buying multiple pairs just to try them on, knowing in advance that most, if not all of them, will be returned. 

We intend to participate in a bigger number of markets and fairs, so that we can give the opportunity for the public to try the shoes. However if you have any questions about choosing the right size or you want to know further details about our minimalist shoes we are happy to help you, just get in contact with us!


  1. I certainly appreciate your dilemma with returns! Add to that the rigorous customs for items coming back into Portugal and it leaves you dealing with unhappy customers for something you can’t control, and people who are too scared to try your absolutely wonderful shoes!

    My suggestion for this and the environmental issue is to please, please, please give much more detailed fit information! Have a diagram of the inside volume of each shoe showing the length and width and depth and height at various points for each size. Buying online is so difficult already but if your second toe is longer than your first you might be a different size than someone whose length is the same but their big toe is longest. Some people have widest part at end of toes while others at base of toes or even arch area for flat feet. The more information you can give the more likely we will choose the right size. This would be wonderful if ALL barefoot shoes would do something like this! Maybe take the measurements from the last used to create the size? And detail how much difference the plush lining makes over the cotton etc! And how much stretch you can expect from leather vs cotton vs hemp for the width etc.

    I am so excited for the new models next week. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Judie,
      thank you so much for your feedback and your ideas. We will definitely work on giving more information about sizing, we are already brainstorming about a good and non confusing way :)! But as we said already sometimes it isn’t avoidable. By the way custom problems seem to be overcome, wasn’t easy, but from now on it will be easier.
      Have a nice day!

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