Written on the 6 June 2017 by David Simmons

IT'S been seven years since the Munro family purchased Styletread, and in that time it has become one of Australia's largest online shoe retailers with more than $100 million in revenue.

The focus for this pure-play online retailer been on the user experience including free delivery, free returns, and accurate product descriptions. 

Managing director Lee Munro says it's all about knowing what the customer wants and delivering, especially now that Amazon is looming on the horizon.

"This is proof that we are on the right track to keep growing and to reach our next big goal, which is to take the Styletread offering international," says Munro.

Instead of fighting US retail behemoth Amazon, Styletread is hoping to partner with the company and make use of their worldwide shipping infrastructure.

"We are looking to partner with Amazon and list more local brands online. It presents a real opportunity for us to expand," says Munro.

Business News Australia spoke to Munro about Styletread's rapid rise to the top of the market, their plans for expanding internationally, and how they plan to tackle Amazon.

So, what's behind the Styletread story?

I think one of the keywords for us has been optimisation and optimisation in everything we do. We've made the business very efficient, optimised our processes, and we've optimised the customer journey.

You're looking to go international any particular markets you have your eye on?

We are trialling the US right now. It's a big market and the size of it is attractive but it's extremely competitive.

I think Asia being on our doorstep makes geographical sense. We've done a bit of fact finding and investigation around Hong Kong, Singapore and China, but we don't have anything concrete in terms of a specific market entry strategy for any of those markets.

What are some of the challenges you're anticipating when going overseas?

I think language is a huge barrier. Being a pure-play online delivery is a big barrier, communications across, and access to, customer service is a big process and another barrier. And the cost of establishing and doing business and marketing to a whole new customer base.

Are you concerned about Amazon's entry into Australia or will you welcome them, and do you think that they will have as much of an impact that analysts are expecting?

I think they will definitely have a huge impact in certain cases. I think dry goods, fast moving consumer goods, the supermarket category, all have something to watch and take note of.

They have been so successful in the US, but even in those markets they haven't overridden traditional retail so it's nothing to be alarmed about but it's something to be aware of.

For us, we're different, we're going to partner with Amazon, we're not as concerned that they're going to eat into our market share in the short term, and we pride ourselves on our customer service and our product offering, we feel that if we don't press on we should be able to match or better what they are offering.

So, we're not that concerned but we do welcome their arrival because it will expand the online presence in Australia and give us more chance to access customers.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have with Styletreads and being pure-play? Is there something you miss out on by not having a physical presence?

The main challenge is that we sell footwear and they may be looking for a feel of the products. Also providing the customer an immersive experience is difficult online. The ability to set the mood with music and lighting, we feel that although we don't have those things we still provide a great experience in terms of we have a great range, and we try and go above and beyond in terms of getting you that product as fast as possible, in general most of our products are free delivery and we use an express service so we try and fulfil the customer experience that way.

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Author: David Simmons





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