Yet another retailer has been consigned to the history books, with the news that Shoes of Prey has gone into liquidation, reportedly citing discrepancies between what customers said they wanted and what they actually bought.
ASIC issued a Notice of Appointment of a Liquidator, dated 11 March 2019, which said that “at a general meeting of the members of the Company held on 06 March 2019, it was resolved that the Company be wound up and that KellyAnne Lavina Trenfield and John Richard Park be appointed liquidator(s)”.
Ms Trenfield and Mr Park are with the local branch of global firm FTI Consulting.
It follows the release last week of lacklustre retail turnover figures in Australia over the crucial months of December and January.
Shoes of Prey’s website has already been taken down. The retailer had noted in a tweet on 28 August last year that it had stopped taking orders to “consider our options for the future of our business”. It was the last tweet posted by the company on Twitter.
According to its Facebook page, which remains live, Shoes of Prey was founded in 2009 and offered to make women’s shoes “on-demand”.
Calling it “one of the original Australian fashion start-up success stories”, News Corp referred to a post on Medium, reportedly made by co-founder Michael Fox a day before the liquidation notice was issued, under the heading “The Shoes of Prey journey ends”.
“We launched Shoes of Prey in 2009 with the vision that personalisation and customisation were the future of retail,” the post states.
“We grew quickly and successfully within a niche customer segment of women who are passionate about customising their shoes.”
But troubles began when the start-up attempted to scale its operations and cater to the mass market.
“Despite all the right trends towards personalisation and our success within the customisation niche, contrary to our market research, the mass market fashion customer just didn’t respond as we expected,” the post reads.
“We learnt the hard way that mass market customers don’t want to create, they want to be inspired and shown what to wear.”
The post also provides a glimpse into the founder’s key takeaways from the rise and fall of the business over the past decade.
“If I ever find myself in a position where I’m attempting to change consumer behaviour, I will ensure I’ve peeled back the layers to truly understand the psychology of my target customer,” it states.
“While our mass market customer told us they wanted to customise if we improved our value proposition in the four areas I mentioned earlier, what they were consciously telling us and what they subconsciously wanted (to be inspired by trends and shown by celebrities and influencers exactly what to wear — down to the style and brand) were effectively polar opposites.
“We listened to what the mass market customer told us, verified with our strategic partners that they were hearing the same thing, then accepted it.”
The post adds: “I don’t think the same issues apply if you’re offering a product that works within an existing consumer behaviour framework, so an alternate learning I will take away is to pick a business that doesn’t require changing consumer behaviour.”
Mr Fox’s post ends by stating that Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox is planning to publish a book based on their experience with the business later in 2019.
In recent months, Australian retailers have collapsed at a rate of almost one a month. Since October 2018, Roger David, Ed Harris, Crabtree & Evelyn, Napoleon Perdis and Laura Ashley have all gone into administration. Most have now disappeared for good, while some Napoleon Perdis stores are still trading as administrators attempt to find a buyer for the cosmetics chain.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.