The most interesting part of Deckers Outdoor Corp.'s newest brick-and-mortar store isn't the lineup of Ugg boots and Sanuk sandals – it's the electronic hardware fixed throughout the Goleta space.
A centrally-placed bank of eight iPads allows customers to order out-of-stock items online and ship them free of charge. At a large touchscreen installed in one wall, shoppers can customize a pair of shearling boots or slippers and have them delivered.
Tablets at several displays are loaded with descriptions, videos and other content surrounding lesser known brands such as shoe label Hoka One One.
The 8,000-square-foot store is the first from Deckers to feature all seven of its footwear brands – which also include Teva, Tsubo, Ahnu and Mozo – for sale under one roof.
Currently, only Ugg, Sanuk and Teva have dedicated stores. Deckers garners much of its revenue through wholesale contracts with retailers such as Nordstrom.
The debuting facility is sandwiched between two structures that together constitute Deckers' new 180,000-square-foot headquarters. The company had been based in four separate locations throughout the Santa Barbara County city but outgrew those buildings.
Although the space will have more than 1,000 products for sale at any given time and 30 employees to help customers, the endgame isn't for the unit to reap major revenue.
Instead, Deckers wants the facility to serve as a testing ground for new technologies and selling strategies.
Executives envision the location as a laboratory for the company's so-called omnichannel strategy, in which Deckers hopes to smoothly blend its online, mobile, wholesale and retail operations.
"There's an omnichannel revolution going on," said Deckers Chief Executive Angel Martinez. "This is an experimental place – the objective for this store is not the same as the other stores in our fleet."
The idea is to connect with shoppers and then stay connected.
Don't see the shoe size or color you want? You or an employee can pull up the item on an iPad and ship it for free to your house. Or, if you're a tourist just passing through, the store can deliver the footwear to your hotel.
"The consumer is smack at the center of everything and has all the power," Martinez said. "They want to access brands when they want, how they want, and they want that access 24/7."
Deckers said last month that fourth quarter sales soared 19.2% to a record $736 million. Earnings per share during the period boomed 45.8% to $4.04 from $2.77 a year earlier.
Sales at Ugg rose 18.1% to $690.9 million – by far Deckers' top draw. Sanuk sales swung up 45.2% to $22.2 million.
Tellingly, Deckers' e-commerce sales outpaced retail store performance by surging 33.9% to $117.3 million.