Local online retailer Shoes of Prey has taken a step towards the bricks-and-mortar world, teaming up with department store giant David Jones as the two companies explore new ways to boost sales.
The move comes as department stores are searching for ways to enhance their lagging online experience, while fast-moving and successful online retailers endeavour to show off their product face-to-face without being forced to open new stores.
David Jones confirmed the news with SmartCompany today, saying Shoes of Prey, which allows users to create custom-designed shoes, had set up a booth at its flagship Sydney store in order to show off its product and allow users to access the site's design experience while in the store.
Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox told SmartCompany the business approached the department store about the idea.
"We haven't got any experience in offline retailing. David Jones has been around for more than 100 years, they're a stable brand," she says.
"We've also created something that really stretches the rules of what online retailing is, and has been, and David Jones is going to come on that journey with us."
The area set aside in David Jones for the company has been distinctly branded as Shoes of Prey, offering users the ability to browse examples of custom-made shoes from the site and even create their own by using tablets made available for customers.
Fox says while the company doesn't have any plans "presently" to expand the offline format, she did say the company will go wherever the customers are.
"I actually don't think this strategy is about marrying or integrating the experience. For me, it's about a seamless experience, and I believe in what the customer needs and wants, and then finding the most innovative and optimal way to solve the problem."
Fox also said the David Jones presence is designed to be profitable in and of itself.
Retail Doctor Group managing director Brian Walker told SmartCompany the combination of the two businesses is a good sign both businesses understand the importance of each domain – digital and bricks-and-mortar.
"Eighteen out of the top 20 online retailers in the United States have physical stores to support them, so it's a pure cross-channel play."
"They are doing exactly what the market is wanting them to do, and that is have a physical, tactile experience as well as the efficiency and process of an online one."
Walker also noted the David Jones brand sits well alongside Shoes of Prey, as the two are known for their fashion prowess.
"They're aligning themselves with credibility, and reducing their own infrastructural costs associated with opening their own stores."
Shoes of Prey has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2009. More recently, the company announced a $3 million round of funding from several prominent investors including Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.
This week has been a significant one for local online retailers. The Iconic was also in the news after receiving yet another capital injection worth $25 million.