The online roots of Nordstrom’s latest digital-in-store creation

May 12, 2015 10:27 AM

Shoe-loving women taking advantage of Nordstrom Inc.’s latest in-store digital connections are being introduced to Shoes of Prey, a 6-year-old Australian e-retailer of custom-designed, custom-made footwear.

Nordstrom has opened six Shoes of Prey Design Studios within their women’s shoe departments in stores since November in Bellevue, Wash., Paramus, N.J., Arlington, Va., Oak Brook, Ill., Newport Beach, Calif., and San Francisco. Nordstrom is the only U.S. retailer Shoes of Prey is working with.

Each studio has brightly lit shelves showcasing the dozen or so base shoe styles available and the colorful array of 170-plus fabrics, silks, leathers and vegan materials shoppers can use to design their own pair of shoes. Shoppers can try on sample shoes and touch the fabric swatches, and then they sit at a central table and get to work on an iPad, designing their shoes on Shoes of Prey’s 3-D designer app.

When they’re satisfied with their creations, consumers complete their orders on the iPad and the shoes are shipped free to their homes or the Nordstrom store for pickup in about a month. Nordstrom “shoe stylists” help facilitate the design and ordering process. Prices run from about $130 to $400.

The Nordstrom Shoes of Prey in-store studio concept is a takeoff on Shoes of Prey’s first, and only, shop concept opened in a David Jones department store in Sydney, Australia, in 2013. “We’re always looking for the best merchandise and experiences for our customers and we know there is something special about finding just the right pair of shoes,” says Scott Meden, Nordstrom executive vice president and general manager of shoes.

The Shoes of Prey design studios are the latest example of Nordstrom bringing digital features into its stores. In December in select stores Nordstrom added interactive mirrors to dressing rooms that provide shoppers with product recommendations and access to in-store inventory information as they try clothes on. Last summer, Nordstrom began showing items popular with its 1.5 million Wanelo followers on screens in its BP department (what Nordstrom calls its junior’s department) in more than 100 stores. Wanelo is a social shopping network popular with teens and young adult shoppers.

At an event last week celebrating the opening of the design studio at the Oak Brook location, flocks of women spent time fingering swatches and playing with the 3-D modeling tool, swapping out snakeskin for leopard print and studs for tassels. Some shoe lovers attending said they weren’t aware of Shoes of Prey prior to getting their invite; a few previously had ordered from the brand online. All said they were interested in trying it out more, most especially as a special occasion outing with friends.

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

Nordstrom moved up five positions, from No. 24 to No. 19, in Internet Retailer’s 2015 Top 500 Guide, based on web sales that grew 28.1% from 2013 to 2014. 




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