Nordstrom’s ‘Clicks-and-Bricks’ Venture with Shoes of Prey Proving Fruitful

By Sam Gopal | 14 May 2015

US-based Nordstrom’s digital venture with Aussie retailer Shoes of Prey sees custom design studios rolled out to five other US locations.

At the end of last year, Aussie online shoe design site Shoes of Prey announced a partnership with US department store giant Nordstrom to bring its digital offering into the physical store and expand its target market beyond local borders.

Since the opening of the first outlet in Bellevue, Washington last November, the trial has seen the opening of five other locations throughout the US, including Paramus, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Washington D.C. and Chicago. Customers are able to visit a Shoes of Prey design studio in-store at Nordstrom and design their own shoes and order online.

The retailer of luxury goods and fashion has pledged to spend billions on e-commerce this year, with 35 percent of its sales spent on technology over the next five years. Nordstrom wants to integrate the in-store and online customer experience to be more seamless, and the venture with Shoes of Prey is proving fruitful in this endeavour.

“We’re always looking for the best merchandise and experiences the market has to offer and we know there is something special about finding just the right pair of shoes,” says Scott Meden, Executive Vice President and General Merchandise Manager of the Nordstrom shoe division. “We love being able to give customers the ability to explore their creative side and design their own personalised pair of shoes and we’re excited for more customers to experience this firsthand. We’re all about giving customers choices and making them feel good.”

The design studios feature mounted touch-screen tablets where customers can choose all of the elements for their shoe – preferred colour, material, heel height, style and ornaments – from a range of  available styles. The materials available include over 170 options, with fish skin, silk, suede, leathers, and even vegan materials. Customers are able to choose sizes that include the harder-to-find shoe size, such as size 13 through 15, as well as half sizes.

Shoppers can try on sample shoes and touch the fabric swatches, and then use the 3D designer app to design their shoes. To help customers make the right decision during the process, the design studios are staffed with ‘shoe stylists’ to give pointers or advice about custom shoes. Once designed, the shoes are available for pick-up from Nordstrom or shipped to their home in as a little as four weeks.

The Shoes of Prey design studios are the latest example of Nordstrom bringing digital features into its stores – a ‘clicks-and-bricks’ approach to marry technology and retail, and offer the best customer service experience both in-store and online. It partnered with eBay to launch an integrated e-commerce and mobile shopping site for its Nordstrom Rack line of discount goods stores, and in December last year it integrated technology in select stores for a ‘smart fitting room’, with interactive mirrors in the dressing rooms providing shoppers product recommendations and access to in-store inventory information as they try clothes on.

At an event last week celebrating the opening of the design studio at the Oak Brook location in Chicago, crowds of women spent time perusing swatches and playing with the 3D design app. Some shoe lovers attending said they weren’t aware of Shoes of Prey prior to getting their invite, while a few had previously ordered from the brand online. All said they were interested in trying it out more.

The design studio concept is a store-only option for now; consumers can order only select, non-customised Shoes of Prey shoes on Nordstrom.com. Web shoppers anywhere, however, can design shoes and place orders on ShoesofPrey.com, with free shipping to most US addresses.

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