In yet another tribute the Australian success in tech retailing, the US luxury department store Nordstrom has joined a slew of investors in funding US$15.5 million (AU$21.46 million) for Australia’s online fashion retailer, Shoes of Prey to expand its operations.

Shoes of Prey is famous as a specialist player selling customisable women’s shoes in a range of materials both offline and online. The success of the online Australian tech company follows the success of Australian company Atlassian's US IPO as a signal that Australian tech players have arrived in the world's biggest market in a big way.

“With personalization becoming more important to how the customer views good service, it’s important for us to find opportunities to stay increasingly relevant,” said Scott Meden, the Nordstrom executive overseeing the company’s shoe business, explaining the rationale of funding.

As an online retailer, Shoes of Prey allows customers to design own shoes on their website, which will be further developed in its factory in China before shipping them to the customers.

Co-founder Jodie Fox of the fashion portal told The Australian Financial Review that the latest funding and Nordstrom's backing are a vindication of the company's "mass customisation" retail model. It is planning to utilise the new funding for its US expansion plans.

Aussie firm’s strategy

Shoes of Prey has outlined big plans for the US market and already relocated headquarters to Santa Monica, California in August. It also sewed up a key partnership with Nordstrom and opened "interactive design centres" as an "omni-channel" retail strategy. For Nordstrom stores, the design centres gave a boost in raising its profile.

In the funding, Nordstrom joined Khosla Ventures which was led by Blue Sky Venture Capital. Investment director of Blue Sky Venture Capital, Elaine Stead praised Shoes of Prey and said it was tackling two markets of fashion and logistics.

Retail Tech M&A

Unlike other brick and mortar retailers, Nordstrom stands out with a venture-capitalist face and is a serious player in retail tech M&A space, reports the Fortune.

In 2014, Nordstrom made news by acquiring the website for personalised clothing for men -- Trunk Club men for US$350 million (AU$484 million). A couple of years ago, it bought online flash sale site HauteLook and invested in Bonobos. Thanks to these investments, Nordstrom is getting 19 percent of sales online, according to data from eMarketer.

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