Nordstrom Inc. is among the investors taking part in a $15.5 million Series B financing round into Sydney, Australia-based customizable shoe startup Shoes of Prey. The round brings the company’s total funding to $24.6 million.
In the U.S., the company also has an office in Santa Monica, CA, and design studios in six Nordstrom department stores.
The firm says it will use the funding to scale production and to expand its technology, especially into boots, which many women find especially difficult to fit properly off the rack.
Nordstrom’s willingness to participate in retail innovations of all sorts have helped it rise a bit above the fray in the department store space.
The retailer’s Innovation Lab is tasked with drumming up ideas and follow-through, like its TextStyle service, where customers can shop with the help of a Nordstrom agent via text. And last year Nordstrom bought online e-commerce website Trunk Club, just a few years after it bought flash sale site HauteLook. The company was ranked the most digital-savvy department store by benchmarking company L2.
Nordstrom saw sales dip in its most recent quarter and, as a consequence, its share price tumble. And many observers have begun to question the department store model, at least the lower-end department store, in general.
“You wonder if any department store can afford to be a department store any more unless they’re high end,” retail futurist Doug Stephens told Retail Dive earlier this year. “Look at J.C. Penney, still dying a slow death. And Macy’s for all their bravado about omnichannel, still their sales are underwhelming.”
But with all this talk, Stephens believes that, Nordstrom does have the fundamentals, and has said the quarterly sales dip hasn’t changed his mind.
“Nordstrom’s service proposition is still excellent,” he said. “The service is tremendous, the assortment is really good, they have good buying principals, and, at the same time, they’re technology savvy.”