Case study: Shoes of Prey and innovative e-commerce

Letting the customer design their own shoes is putting fun at the heart of Shoes of Prey.

Shoes of Prey is an online retail business set up by Michael and Jodie Fox and Mike Knapp that lets customers design their own shoes by using a design template on its web site.

Launched in October 2009, the business was profitable within four months of launch, and sales have grown steadily. Its customer base is mainly 25- to 60-year-old professional women.

Customers choose heel, toe, fabric, colour and embellishments for their shoes. These are leather lined, and handmade by suppliers in China from materials and rubber imported from Europe, and, after local quality-control checks, shipped directly to the customer. Manufacturing time is about four weeks.

“They know what they like, what kind of heel height... they know what shoes go with what outfit, they are very particular about what they are looking for,” says Fox.

However co-creation is just one way Shoes of Prey enhances its customer experience.

“We focus on customer service,” Fox says. “The shoes are delivered in a beautifully packaged box, accompanied by a handwritten note and a developed photo of the shoes that has also been emailed separately as part of the despatch process.”

“Because we spent a lot of time finding good suppliers, the shoes are good,” Fox says. “The shoes also live up to the hype.”

Shoes of Prey demonstrates its customer care with a no-quibble returns policy accompanied by a full refund, including the initial shipping charge. It has also taken advantage of the social media phenomenon by setting up a Facebook page.

Shoes of Prey also has a YouTube channel and a blog on its web site that is regularly updated. When it was five months old, its site had received over 200,000 hits, a fairly substantial amount for a start-up online retailer, thanks to some local fashion media coverage.
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