We've previously experimented with taking our business offline, and we're starting to seriously consider opening a Shoes of Prey store. We get so many email from customers asking if we have a store they can come and visit, and while only a small portion of our sales come from Sydney, there's a lot of interest here and we think there's a good opportunity for us in traditional retail. Speaking with customers in person would be a great way to educate them and help them make a decision on which shoes to purchase, aiding us in overcoming our low conversion rate.
A store would also be a good opportunity for us to use all the great data we have from the shoe designs customers are saving, and sell a range of ready made shoes in store based on the most popular styles and colours.
And finally, a store would give us an avenue to sell some of the returned shoes when we remake shoes for customers after they don't fit the first time.
Traditional retail still makes up well over 90% of all retail sales in Australia, so by only operating online we're missing an enormous opportunity. This has been particularly obvious this week following our story on A Current Affair with literally hundreds of emails coming from potential customers who are unlikely to have made a purchase online before. Obviously we want to help encourage them to shop online and do our bit to help grow online retail in Australia, but many of them aren't comfortable doing that yet. Having them experience our brand and shop from us in a physical store may actually be a good way to then encourage them to buy their second pair of shoes from us online.
There's obviously a cost and a risk in opening a store. A 3 year lease is the standard for a retail store, which locks us in to a significant investment of money. In addition to rent there's fitout and staffing costs, along with the cost of purchasing shoes to stock in the store. On top of that is the significant amount of time we'll need to invest in a store and the opportunity cost of working on other things.
On the plus side, if we get it right and a store goes well, there's no reason we couldn't open more physical stores which, in addition to the website, could be a great way to continue growing the business.
For the last few weeks we've been speaking with real estate agents and looking at some locations in the Sydney CBD and eastern suburbs.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on a number of things:
- What locations do you think would work for us?
- Would you shop or tell your friends to visit a Shoes of Prey store?
- Do you think it's right for our business?