Case Profile: StyleTread

By Neha Kale | 04 May 2011

At just a few months old, StyleTread is an Australian pureplay shoe retailer with a well-heeled approach to satisfying its customers.

Australian shoe retailer StyleTread has taken some well-heeled strides in the pureplay space since its launch last November. Inspired by the success of  Zappos, the company is proving that starting a successful online retail operation, much like finding the perfect shoe, is all in the detail.

“We wanted to create a site that would allow Australian products to have an online presence,” says Mark Rowland, Director of StyleTread. “There were quite a few brands that are exclusive to us online – they wanted to partner with us without running into the expense of creating their own online store.”

StyleTread caters for men, women and children with a product range that features 5,000 styles and brands such as Mollini, Windsor Smith, Siren, Tony Bianco and Birkenstock. Rowland established the e-commerce startup with business partner Bjorn Behrendt last year after identifying a gap in the market and a growing consumer appetite for an online retailer to match the best bricks and mortar service levels.

“A lot of people don’t understand that you can still give excellent service even it is online. With our business, we might not necessarily have the same level of human interaction [as a bricks and mortar store] but we want to take the every step possible to raise that level of interaction,” Rowland continues.

It is this emphasis on service, not cut-price product, which informs the StyleTread business model, and is reflected in everything from the design of the website to the company’s shipping and fulfillment strategies.

Elegant and easy to navigate, the site features high-res imagery that allows shoppers to view shoes from every angle and zoom in on features such as stitching and leather grain – details usually dismissed as too difficult to recreate online. These images are accompanied by detailed descriptions, product recommendations and reviews. The retailer built its online store on Magento, drawn to the platform’s highly customisable nature and easy integration with PayPal.

For Rowland, this commitment to shopping experience is key to overcoming one of the major hurdles for shoe e-tailers – the inability for customers to try shoes on.

“The challenge is size, but we just need to educate people that it’s okay to order a few pairs of shoes and return them. We want to get across to customers that we can bring the shoe store to your home and whichever ones you don’t like you can send back the next day,” he says.

Although this approach may seem to have the makings of a logistical nightmare, StyleTread has put processes in place to make deliveries and returns as seamless as possible. The company provides a 100-day free return policy and has teamed up with Australian Air Express to offer next-day delivery at no cost to the customer. StyleTread also takes the best practice free return shipping model a step further by collecting unwanted styles from customer’s homes or offices. The company’s effort to take the risk and cost out of online shopping is an important factor in its success.

At just a few months old, StyleTread is already turning heads – the company is garnering strong social media buzz and has recently launched a major above-the-line campaign. Rowland finds “the levels of customer interaction” one of the most inspiring aspects of StyleTread and is excited about the company’s future path.

“This year will be the year of online retail. We just want to be at the crest of the wave rather than following,” he says.


2 thoughts on “Case Profile: StyleTread”

  1. David says:

    Do you have a list of what is available in larger sizes such as 50 european. We who have large feet have big problems getting anything really nice.

  2. Jo Moore says:

    Purchased some boots online only to find that they are way too big. Now I am having hassles with returning them. I am trying to find the director or manager who I an speak to this about. As for the returns motto – no problem to easy, I have been waiting over two weeks for someone to collect and return these boots and am being given the run around. ‘Take to the post office’ Post office says I can’t send them back without a reply paid code or something. They were delivered to my work address and now Styletread are saying I am out of the area for the courier to pick them up. I just want the damn boots collected and returned so I can get my money back. 3 weeks later and still no resolve so I guess it’s back on the phone again Tuesday and if no joy there I guess I have to make a complaint to the dept. of fair trading – Not happy Jan!

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