At age 23, after seeing a For Sale advertisement in the Advertiser for a ladies shoe store, Shouz founder Annette McInerney told her husband Ian that she wanted to go into business. It was her vision to offer Adelaide women of all ages the must-have footwear designs of the season. And 40 years later, Annette is not only offering the must-have designs to Adelaide women, but women all over Australia and the world. Whilst Annette plays down her success and the hard-work that went into it, when she decided to go into business, women were rarely in business on their own and the industry was dominated by men. Following the success of the founding Hyde Park store and fast forward to early 2000’s where a further three stores were opening in suburbs around Adelaide. Testament to Annette’s resilience, when store-front retail started seeing testing times, she turned to the revolution that was online shopping. Today, it’s hard to even imagine a time where you couldn’t quickly jump online and snap up the latest pair of boots you’ve been lusting over, however, when Shouz first started their online presence, that was the reality. The original online store didn’t have a shopping cart which meant customers would need to email or call to check if the item they were after was in stock. Fast forward to 2012 with a rebuild of the site that saw a 25% growth year on year and a further rebuild in 2018, business has seen an almost 100% increase on the 17/18 FY revenue, proving the online venture was well and truly worth the leap.
As well as being an Adelaide business success story, Shouz is also a family business success story. After working in the store part-time at 15 year of age, Annette’s daughter Kate joined the business full time as General Manager in 2011. Kate has fond childhood memories of the stores “I felt like my brother Matt and I grew up in the original King William Road store. I kind of literally did! Three days after having me mum went back to work and I was raised via my bassinet on the shop floor”, she laughs.
While it is forever being reported that shop-front retail is a dying trade, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Annette and Kate both lament the importance of evolving with the times and that means utilising and capitalising on the developments in technology. There is no doubt that business is tough, products are accessible at the click of a button at any time and anywhere and so with that comes the pressure of being able to keep up with larger organisations whose resources are able to offer their customers an exceptional shopping experience. And, it certainly isn’t as easy as opening the shop doors and people walking in but because of that, it is extremely pleasing to say that after 40 years, people still want to shop with Shouz.
“Online is here to stay but we’re of the belief that nothing beats walking out of a store having had a great customer service experience and that warm-fuzzy feeling that comes with the instant gratification of getting yourself a new pair of shoes” she says.
Whilst the eastern states capital cities have an A+ on their score cards when it comes to the quality of shopping and what’s available to the consumer, the misconception that Adelaide is behind the style-game is just that, a misconception. “All the retailers, Australia wide, have the option of buying from the same suppliers. So really, it comes down to what us as buyers choose, that reflect what you see in our stores” says Kate. This has become particularly evident for Shouz since having an online presence.
“The majority of our online business is from Victoria and NSW. We constantly get feedback that customers love our ranges and that we always have something 'different' and they wish we had shops there”.
The beauty of style is that it is so subjective and just because two people love one style of boot, that’s not to say that they’ll love the same pair of heels. Shouz strives to offer something individual so that we do have that point of difference regardless of whether you're shopping in Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. And it’s that ability to consistently offer a shoe that will suit and excite women of all ages and tastes coupled with the hard work of Annette and her team, is the key to the longevity of this successful small business.