Nordstrom Tech Shopping Spree Continues with Stake in Custom Shoe Retailer

December 7, 2015, 4:45 PM UTC
Sarah Jessica Parker Meets Customers During SJP Collection Event At Nordstrom At The Grove
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 06: A general view of atmosphere during Sarah Jessica Parker meets customers at the SJP collection event at Nordstrom in The Grove on March 6, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/WireImage)
Photograph by Donato Sardella — WireImage/Getty Images

Nordstrom (JWN) is turning out to be quite the tech investor.

The luxury department store chain is part of a syndicate of investors that has pumped in $15.5 million in a new financing round in Shoes of Prey, the venture capital-backed retailer said on Monday.

Australia-based Shoes of Prey sells customizable women’s shoes in a range of materials and designs online, including and in select stores, including six Nordstrom stores. The round Nordstrom took part in was Shoes of Prey’s largest so far and was led by BlueSky Venture Capital. Shoes of Prey has so far raised $24.6 million, including an earlier round, and said customers have designed 5 million pairs of shoes since it launched in 2009.

Nordstrom-as-venture-capitalist may seem an odd concept at first blush. But the retailer has emerged as something of a player in retail tech M&A in recent years, certainly much more than its peers. (Macy’s (M) is getting in on the action, having bought Blue Mercury for $210 million earlier this year.)

Last year, Nordstrom bought Trunk Club, a personalized clothing shopping website aimed at men, for an estimated $350 million. A few years ago, Nordstrom paid $180 million to buy online flash sale site HauteLook. And it has previously invested in Bonobos.

The investments have helped Nordstrom become an e-commerce leader among traditional brick-and-mortar retailers: the company gets about 19% of sales online, according to recent data from eMarketer. The moves have also enabled the company to more quickly adapt to changing shopping habits.

“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.

The investments come as sales at Nordstrom’s physical stores are growing at a snail’s pace, while its e-commerce growth continues to soar.

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