Shoes of Prey Ceases Trading

After almost a decade in e-commerce, Shoes of Prey has announced a ‘pause’ in business as it considers its options. An announcement on its website reads:

When we started Shoes of Prey back in 2009, we couldn’t have dreamed that we would have the opportunity to share in such an incredible adventure. And you were the most wonderful people to have that adventure with. Today we’re pausing to consider our options for the future of our business, and we have stopped taking orders. We have reviewed all of our orders and if we see that we are unable to make your shoes, you will be fully refunded. 

Founded by Michael Fox, Mike Knapp and Jodie Fox in Sydney in 2009, the company is one of the original Australian e-commerce success stories, arguably one of the first retailers to successfully bring customisation and personalisation mainstream. In 2014 it closed a US$5.5m Series A round with Khosla Ventures and in 2015 it secured US$15.5 million in series B capital raising, led by BlueSky Venture Capital, with Greycroft and Nordstrom coming on board as new equity partners. This brought the company’s total combined funding to US$24.6 million.

Shoes of Prey makes its announcement on social media.

In 2016 it announced that it would closing its physical presence at David Jones’ flagship store in Sydney and all outlets in Nordstrom. In November that year, Knapp announced that he would be leaving the company, stepping down as CTO (but remaining an investor).

While the signs may have been there, it is still a shock to the e-commerce industry. The company has been the recipient of many awards over the years with the Founders sharing their advice and expertise to many on the same journey. Today Fox made a statement via instagram that gave some insight into what the struggling company had been facing:

When we started Shoes of Prey nearly ten years ago, we had a grand vision for what the future of fashion retail might look like. We believed that women shouldn’t just settle for mass-produced styles and sizes that were chosen for them. We saw a future where women around the world could design their own shoe, in their absolutely perfect size, and have it made just for them.

The early signs were great, from the local market stalls to our first global online orders, it was clear we had created something people enjoyed and appreciated. As a business we were profitable very early, and we brought on board world-class investors and advisors to help us realise our vision.

In the years that followed we tested many channels to scale what we had created…All the indicators for our testing were great – things like NPS, basket size and more were all positive and pointed to a healthy future. We took on more funding from intelligent, visionary investors who saw the same potential we saw, invested in R&D, and welcomed more great teammates to Shoes of Prey, along with millions of customers around the world…

However, just like every company, behind the scenes, we faced struggles. While all the indicators and data were positive, we were not able to truly crack mass-market adoption. We remain passionate and positive about our vision for the future of fashion retail. But we are making the difficult decision today to pause orders and actively assess all our options to either sell, or at a later date, reboot the business with substantial changes.

It’s certainly a stark reminder for Australian businesses that no matter the benchmarks of ‘success’, no one is immune from struggles and longevity isn’t guaranteed, even with continuous market testing, experts and millions in funding. It is yet to be announced how long this ‘pause’ in business will last and what the outcome will be for Shoes of Prey, its employees and its investors.

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