Shoes were the hot topic after a speech I gave last week to the Women’s Chiefs of Enterprise International group last week in Sydney.
My speech identified key business trends for 2015 and one of these trends is customisation.
Of course there’s nothing new about customisation – getting something made to fit you or “bespoke” has always been a trend for those with enough cash, but new business models are bringing customisation to the masses at accessible price points.
You can now get granola made to your own personal specifications, jewellery made to order from Style Rocks and there’s even a customised surfboard startup in Sydney called Disrupt.
But the main flag bearer for the trend in Australia is the online shoe retailer Shoes of Prey.
The business, which allows customers to design their own shoes, has just inked a deal with United States department store Nordstrom to open six retail outlets in its stores.
Co-founder Jodie Fox says Nordstrom had identified customisation as a key part of its strategy, a fact Shoes of Prey didn’t know before its pitch.
“A retailer like that giving its blessing to customization is really exciting and gives credence to the trend.”
Fox says most people get something custom designed because what they want doesn’t exist.
“At the moment the one thing that is a barrier is no one who is in customisation has cracked how to make it as simple as choosing out of three products on a shelf.”
Fox says what she calls this “paralysis of choice” can be overcome by better use of technology and using data about the customer to narrow down the choices available.
“We have a dream for what Shoes of Prey can be. Shoes of Prey is about much more than shoes, it is about getting what you want when you want,” she says.
“It has possibilities for far more products.”
While your business may be in a vey different sphere to Shoes of Prey or Style Rocks, this trend has applications for every business.
In an increasingly global and homogenised world there may be aspects of your business that you can customise to better reflect what your clients and customers want.
Sometimes, it’s not just about the shoes.