Shoes of Prey considers future of business

Online retailer Shoes of Prey has stopped taking new orders and is refunding customers for orders it can no longer fill, according to an August 27 post on the company’s Instagram feed.

“Today we’re pausing to consider our options for the future of our business, and we have stopped taking orders,” the statement signed by the Shoes of Prey team reads.

The company’s future has appeared increasingly bleak in recent months, with reports of additional financing rounds and significant changes to the core strategy all adding up to a business in distress.

The post on Tuesday clarified matters.

A post shared by @shoesofprey on

An early mover

Launched in 2009, Shoes of Prey was among the first Australian retailers to combine easy-to-use design tools, on-demand manufacturing and e-commerce to allow customers to design their own products online and have them delivered to their doorstep.

Since then, the design-your-own space has become more crowded with the likes of Institchu bringing the concept to men’s suits in 2011 and Mon Purse doing the same for handbags in 2015.

Riding high on the hype around its forward-thinking concept, Shoes of Prey moved its headquarters to the US in 2015, with an eye towards scaling in the larger market.

But just one year later, the retailer pulled out of concession deals with Nordstrom and David Jones, citing the cost of the bricks-and-mortar operation relative to the return.

Still, Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox billed the move as a strategy decision rather than a setback, telling Internet Retailing in November 2016 that the company was “here for the long term”.

The retailer continued to invest in its offering, improving its manufacturing process in China to reduce the turnaround time on orders from a month to two weeks, which Fox said was crucial to bring the “design-your-own” proposition into the mainstream, and entering new categories like sneakers.

But these investments seem not to have delivered the sales boost the retailer needed, with Shoes of Prey posting a reported $6 million loss in 2017, according to the AFR.

Stopgap, not a solution

The company has been struggling to hit growth forecasts this year and required an injection of funds from Blue Sky Alternative Investments and Greycroft Partners in March while it sought a buyer, according to the AFR.

Shoes of Prey recently shifted its focus to “Cinderella” customers who fall outside the standard range of shoe fit and sizes, launching a “Find your fit” tool, but it seems to have been more stopgap than solution.

Fox posted a personal note on her own Instagram feed, expressing disappointment in the company’s failure to crack the mass market.

“Today is a sad moment. And I have to admit, writing this note is not where I wanted to be. It breaks my heart. Nevertheless, I will continue to share our story and more details now and into the future, so that others can learn from our experience, and I will update you when I have more news to share,” she wrote.

Fox wrote that the company is actively assessing its options, which could include selling, or rebooting the business at a later date with substantial changes.

A post shared by Jodie Fox (@jodieannefox) on

This story first appeared on sister site Internet Retailing.

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