Why Is An eCommerce Shoemaker Going In-Store With Nordstrom?

Australian custom shoemaker Shoes of Prey is now rolling out its design-your-own-shoes system to Nordstrom stores in five more U.S. cities, Chain Store Age reported.

Nordstrom has already installed the iPad-based Shoes of Prey “design studio” (along with a “statement” shoe wall to show off options) in shoe departments in San Francisco and suburban Seattle, where it first tested the Nordstrom in-store idea. It’s also in the process of putting them into stores in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Newport Beach, California, and Paramus, New Jersey.

In theory, that in-store rollout shouldn’t be necessary at all. Shoes of Prey lets customers virtually assemble their own shoes on an iPad screen, mixing and matching styles, colors, embellishment, heel height, and 170 materials that include premium snakeskin, fish skin, silk, suede, a variety of leathers and even vegan materials.

That kind of drag-and-drop assembly could easily be done from a customer’s home. The order could then be transmitted to Australia, the shoes custom made, and then delivered to the customer in the U.S. four weeks later.

That’s not something that lends itself to a standard omnichannel “endless aisle” approach, and there’s no chance that a customer can walk home in new shoes that have yet to be made.

Then why leverage a partnership with Nordstrom to go omnichannel? In part, it’s Shoes of Prey’s positioning as being for women who can’t buy shoes off the rack. “We’re excited to bring a solution for women who can’t find shoes with the exact the heel height, toe shape, material or size that they’re seeking,” said Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox in a prepared statement.

Landing in the U.S. by way of Nordstrom is also an easy way of gaining some rub-off name recognition, and an in-store “shoe wall” displays the variety of styles available to the customer.

But the biggest advantage of the omnichannel approach (instead of the pure-play eCommerce approach that Shoes of Prey uses for Australian customers) may be the in-store “shoe stylists” who are officially there to help guide customers through the process. In reality, they’re also there to guide them away from easily avoidable mistakes.

One common problem: customers who are sure they know their size, but turn out to be a few sizes off. Another is handling returns and rush replacements, which can be hard for ordinary customers to convince customer-service reps to expedite. Shoes of Prey will replace the shoes, which typically cost between $100 and $200, if there’s a problem — but everyone is happier if that’s not necessary.


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