Monday, December 7, 2009

Taking our Business Offline

As we discussed in an earlier post, we've been experimenting with offline retailing, and it's been working really well, more than half our sales have come about as a result of our offline efforts! That's amazing given that we've had about 20 times as many people visit our website as see our offline displays. For those of us used to measuring conversion in the online world, the conversion rate for visitors to our business that see one of our offline displays is 20 times higher than for visitors who see our website only. That's incredible, but it makes sense.

As an online retailer of custom made women's shoes we face 2 barriers to people purchasing from us:

1. People like to see and touch clothes and shoes before purchasing them, particularly high quality products like ours.

2. Customers are a little uncertain when they come across a new business concept like ours. Despite our best efforts to allay their fears, they aren't sure if the shoes are going to look like they hope they will.

When people get to see and touch our shoes, both of these barriers are overcome. They see that the shoes are very well made and that they look very similar to how they look in the designer.

After quite a bit of thought and discussion, we think it makes sense to combine some offline retailing with our online efforts, the two are very complimentary. As we see it there are two approaches we can take:
1. Our own stores.
2. Shoes of Prey displays in existing retail stores.

Given the capital requirements of option 1, we figure we should leave that possibility for now and start with option 2. Retailers displaying Shoes of Prey shoes wouldn't need to hold stock, and we think we could build a great display in 1m x 1m, so we're going to start talking to some retailers to see if they'd be interested in working with us.

As this stage we think the ideal stores for us are mid to high end women's clothing boutiques and wedding dress stores. If you know of any great boutique women's clothing or wedding stores who you think fit with our brand, please let us know!

In terms of the in store retail display, JC from The Grand Social, who have kindly hosted our latest offline efforts (see the pic above), made the good point that we should aim for a really innovative display which clearly tells the story that you can see and touch the shoes in the display, then design them online. A simple way to do this would be to include a touch screen version of our shoe designer in the display. However I'm sure there are much cooler things we could do. Any ideas?!


  1. Hi Michael and crew,
    I have a good friend who owns a succesful shoe store called 'Imeldas'in Maleny, Sunshine Coast Hinterland. She may be interested in this concept. The thought crossed my mind earlier on in your development but I dismissed it as being in conflict with your concept. But as you mention it gives your customers a more tangible experience and also a point of contact for the customer with a mission. I will forward you her contact details.

  2. Thanks Rohan, much appreciated, we'd love to have a chat to them. :)

    My email: michael@

  3. Some really interesting thoughts there Michael. The power of retail is undeniable, and unless you have a multimillion advertising budget, it can be hard to build penetration without some kind of retail presence.

    Keen to hear how things go with your plan of action, best of luck with talking to the retailers.

  4. Matey, shoot me an email with your proposal and I will make sure Lize passes it on to her boss at Ultrasuite (mid end women's clothing store frequented by loads of people for weddings, formals and racedays). Great idea man. Much better than option 1. When your mum told me you were thinking about going into retail I had to restrain myself from ... See Moregrabbing the phone there and then and urging you to change your mind. But I reckon this will work a treat! A great example of finding the middle ground.

  5. God luck Michael - I'll be interested to hear how you go with the retailers. AJB

  6. I popped into the Grand Social before you guys were there and the display looked amazing!! Maybe you could also try THE CORNER SHOP in the Strand and William Street in Paddington, INCU in Paddo and the Galleries Victoria, FROM ST XAVIER at Bondi Beach and Mosman and CHRISTENSEN COPENHAGEN in Double Bay and WBJ. Some of my all time fave shops xx

  7. Aneta and Amanda, thanks for the well wishes.

    Cameron - Cheers, I'll let you know once we've got a plan together, Ultrasuite sounds great.

    Marina - Thanks for checking out our display in The Grand Social and those sound like awesome suggestions for stores, I'll go check them out. :D

  8. Hi mate, My world is POS displays. If you would like me to get a list of display manufacturers please let me know. The only thing is you would be talking prototype quantities (<20) I'm guessing, so they might be pricey for a custom-built solution. To give you a ball park, 20 x Acrylic floor stands with a couple of tiers would cost you anywhere from $200-$500 each. The upside is you have a swanky merchandising solution to match your brand, and a couple of pairs sold off it and you have your money back. I've found bundling this in with a minimum buy from your retail customers works well as the unit clearly and easily pays for itself upfront.

    Good luck mate.

  9. Nice one David, thanks for your thoughts. I might need to talk to you a bit more about this. Our initial thought was that we should find some furniture that suits our purpose - but what we have in mind is quite specific - shelves for shoes and a place for a touch screen, and ideally space to hide the computer that is attached to the touch screen. I'll let you know how we go and might get in touch to chat some more. Cheers!

  10. People always want to touch and feel the products specialy cloths and shoes before purchasing, thats why offline sales is must attarctive.. online sales is for marketing ur products

    Captain Portal