Steve Madden To Step Up Mobile Efforts

Andrew Koven

Steve Madden is planning a bigger push into mobile as the shoe retailer seeks to tighten the link between in-store and online shopping via customers' handsets. After launching a mobile-optimized site this spring, the company plans to add a mobile-specific loyalty program and to boost in-store advertising for text message promotions.

In a keynote address at MediaPost's Mobile Summit in Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Friday, Andrew Koven, president of e-commerce and customer experience at Steve Madden, said the company will roll out a Mobile Club in the next six months that will send customers exclusive deals directly to their phones.

The initiative will be promoted through Steve Madden's Web site and in stores and give customers the chance to earn points toward rewards that could include having a shoe named after them or going to the video shoot of one of the music artists the brand partners with to help market its shoes, handbags and accessories.



Koven said the company is sticking with text-messaging as the chief means of delivering offers and product information since it's a common mobile format and will help Steve Madden collect user data. The company is holding off from utilizing mobile barcodes for now because of the lack of standardization among various emerging technologies.

Because music and lifestyle are key elements of the Steve Madden brand, the company will also roll out a program using its in-store TVs and signage encouraging shoppers to text to a shortcode to get more information about products worn by featured bands and artists. These include acts such as Neon Trees, The Constellations and Livvi Franc.

The company is also extending existing loyalty efforts to mobile including the ability to sign up for a birthday message from Steve Madden on Facebook or to vote on planned new shoe designs via social properties like Facebook and Twitter. "These are tools not just for mobile, but ones we believe will play well in mobile," said Koven.

At the same time, he stressed that the company wants to avoid alienating visitors to its brick-and-mortar stores with overly aggressive cross-promotion of its mobile offerings. "We want to be careful to state that we're not looking to inundate customers. We're being very slow and careful," he said.

In the next two months, Steve Madden will also give mobile customers the ability to find out whether certain products they're looking for are in stock at nearby company locations. During his presentation, Koven emphasized that even with the upcoming additions, the company is still at the early stages of its mobile build-out. "This is just the beginning," he said.

But Koven also offered insights on how the Steve Madden mobile site has performed since debuting four months ago. With an initial investment of $150,000 to $200,000, he said the mobile presence has generated direct sales of about $300,000 to date, with an average order of $80. Visitors are spending an average of 7 minutes, or 3.2 million minutes in aggregate, on the site.

"The revenue isn't bad but that's a lot of time spent on the site," he said, adding that he expects mobile sales to increase sharply during the holiday season. He estimates that mobile has influenced $1.5 million to 2 million in sales and produced a conversion rate of .75% to 1.25%. Koven expects that figure to eventually hit 3%.

One thing that Steven Madden hasn't yet pursued as part of its mobile expansion is an app version of the store. Many brands have focused on creating a mobile app rather than a full mobile Web site because apps are often viewed as providing a better user experience. But with a sophisticated e-commerce mobile site already, Koven suggested that creating a companion mobile app would be redundant.

He expressed similar skepticism about the new shopkick app that detects when a customer enters a participating store such as Best Buy and immediately awards that shopper points toward redemption for merchandise.

And while Steve Madden has partnered with social location services like Foursquare and Loopt to send customers nearby offers, Koven said results so far "haven't been very compelling." That said, the company has extended its brand to those properties big new competitor --Facebook Places -- and Koven said he expects Steven Madden will begin to test offers there as well.

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