Mobile, Personalization, Relevance Key to Milennials at Steve Madden

Retailers need to have more of a mobile-first mentality, a high degree of personalization and a strong loyalty focus if they’re going to reach, engage and retain millennial shoppers, according to Mark Friedman, president of ecommerce for youth apparel firm Steve Madden.

“We’ve heard for years, you need to be mobile first,” Friedman told an audience at IRCE in Chicago. “We’re not there today, but we need to get there. Perhaps it involves reengineering from a technology perspective, using the same code base for desktop and mobile. Look for ways to change your technology for mobile, making it quicker and easier to shop.”

Friedman said Steve Madden launched a mobile app in the past month, and has seen mobile traffic increase between 15% and 30%, but conversions aren’t there yet. “When a customer is on mobile, they’re not browsing product as much as on desktop, and the average order is a bit lower,” he said. “We need to work hard to figure out how they can browse quickly and easily (on mobile) and increase the order size.”

Loyalty is also a huge priority at Steven Madden, Friedman said, in an age when consumers jump much easier and quicker from brand to brand. To that end, the company will soon roll out a loyalty program in which customers earn points for cool perks like giving their input at a Steve Madden design center or meeting Steve Madden himself.

“Ulta Beauty, for example, has had strong earnings lately, and they talk a lot about loyalty – how many members, how many engaged, how many active,” he said. “Loyal customers are the best and most profitable. They want to feel a part of your brand. It’s amazing what they send us on Instagram. They take shots head to toe in a styled outfit, and take pride in being part of Steve Madden.”

Friedman added that loyalty is not just about how much they spend, “it’s how you treat them once they say yes.”

The more personalized the experience, the more the customer is engaged with the brand and finds relevance. “Nothing is more important (than personalization) if focusing on millennial customers, but really with everyone,” he said.

With its fun vibe and youth focus, social media is of course a big part of Steve Madden’s marketing approach, but there’s room to grow, Friedman said. The company has 1.4 million followers on Instagram and 1.1 million on Facebook. “Every touchpoint needs to connect, but frankly there’s a lot of room to improve, despite fact that our customer base is very social savvy,” he said. “User-generated content seems to work really, really well. The more engagement with UGC, the higher the spend.”

In terms of technology integration, Friedman said many companies are still struggling to integrate legacy systems to newer ones to meet omnichannel demands. “We replatformed in March 2014, and it was like attaching PVC pipe to rubber pipe with no threads,” he said. “Omnichannel strategy is not easy to execute but it does work. Steve Madden was doing ship from stores before I arrive here five years ago.”

He also said that Steve Madden has gotten past the point where it was concerned about the cannibalization of store sales through ecommerce, seeing it instead as a symbiotic two-way street. “The in-store experience saves the sale by supporting shoppers who are going online,” he said. “When we market online it drives people to stores, while good customer experience in the store drives them to online purchases.”

Mike O’Brien is Senior Editor of Multichannel Merchant

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