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Steve Madden pins brand overhaul ambitions on unique commerce site

Steve Madden looks to get off on the right foot with a new mobile and Web site that has an unusually heavy focus on user-generated content for a commerce site.

The shoe brand is looking to win over millennials and teens with the social and user-generated content push. Steve Madden’s new site is a stark change from the majority of retailers who center digital initiatives around commerce, which could be beneficial in repositioning and building up the brand.

“Getting this area right coupled with on-trend designs can keep a brand like Steve Madden heading upward for a long time,” said Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, Irvine, CA.

Mr. Schiffer is not affiliated with Steve Madden. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Steve Madden provided background information for this article, but declined to comment on the record.

User-generated sales?
Steve Madden’s mobile and Web site pulls Instagram hashtags and photo uploads straight into content.

One spot on the site encourages consumers to upload their own photos showing off how they incorporate Steve Madden’s style into their wardrobe. There is also a related feature that lets consumers view a photo gallery of all uploaded images.

The site also pulls in a Facebook log-in so that consumers can save and share their favorite products. Another feature called Friend Faves shows what products a shopper’s friends and family have purchased or interacted with.

Steve Madden is also completely relaunching a section on the site called SM World, which serves as the brand’s blog and content hub. All of the items in this section link back to pages on Steve Madden’s commerce-enabled site.

There are also several other small components to Steve Madden’s site that are specifically tailored towards smartphones and tablets.

For instance, Steve Madden is working with Criteo to serve personalized ads on the site based on a consumer’s past visiting behavior and purchasing behavior.

Additionally, a bar at the top of the screen displaying log-in, store and shopping information remains stationary at the top of the screen as consumers scroll down the page. This feature is particularly useful on mobile since shoppers do not need to constantly scroll up and down the page to find basic information.

Despite the fact that mobile commerce sales continue to grow, not many retailers are making these kinds of little differentiations between Web and mobile sites, which could have a significant impact on conversions.

The commerce functions on the site are fairly similar to what other retailers offer. Consumers can sort products by popularity, view multiple images of items, share content via social media and write reviews.

Steve Madden reports that close to 50 percent of all traffic is coming from smartphones and tablets and that these users have shown a propensity to shop versus browse.

Rebuilding a brand?
Steve Madden’s new mobile and Web site is part of the retailer’s bigger plans to make the brand accessible to more consumers.

Since founder Steve Madden was convicted of stock manipulation in 2002, the brand has had a bumpy ride in retail and has leveraged mobile and digital efforts in the past to better connect with consumers.

In 2010, the brand worked with the mobile application Swagg to dole out gift cards and rewards (see story).

In January 2011, an executive speaking during a Mobile Commerce Daily webinar claimed that the brand brought in more than $1 million in mobile sales that year (see story).

In the case of the new mobile and Web site, downplaying some of the commerce features for the user-generated components could give Steve Madden a significant leg-up against other teen-focused retailers that are also aggressively leveraging digital to better connect with consumers.

“It brings the consumer into the story but it is tightly controlled within the site so the focus is on sales,” Mr. Schiffer said.

“It increases the branding potential, because it shows that the brand is popular, talked about, and worn,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York