American footwear brand Steve Madden, part of Landmark Group in the Middle East, recently launched its own e-commerce site in the UAE, thereby strengthening its omnichannel presence. The exclusive site, SteveMadden.me will be rolled out in the entire region within the next two-three months in a phased manner.
The brand already has a prominent online presence through Landmark Group’s own platform CentrepointStores.com as well as other marketplaces, including Namshi and noon.com, among others. In addition, Steve Madden boasts a 44-store network in the GCC, with 20 in the UAE.
The plan to launch Steve Madden’s exclusive e-commerce site was already in the pipeline, even before the COVID-19 outbreak, which forced several retailers to hasten their digital transformation goals. “We wanted to launch the Steve Madden e-commerce site earlier this year, but got slightly delayed,” shares Dinesh Shahani, COO, Shoe Mart International. “We already have a sizeable e-commerce business through platforms like Namshi, which currently offers more options than our own exclusive site. Having said that, SteveMadden.me is a significant addition to our omnichannel business.”
Strengthening omnichannel presence, SteveMadden.me offers services like ‘try and buy’ and easy return. “In response to store closure due to COVID-19, we also did digital catalogue sales during this Ramadan using the WhatsApp platform. It has worked very well in Kuwait. The idea is to offer our customer an experience that’s delightful at every touchpoint – be that through our own e-commerce site, other online marketplaces and our stores,” Shahani opines.
Currently, the online channel – CentrepointStores.com and marketplaces included – accounts for 12-15% of Steve Madden’s overall business in the region. As such, online might be able to offset some losses incurred due to store closures in the long-term, but not in the short term, feels Shahani. In fact, the response has been quite positive towards SteveMadden.me since the recent rollout, especially among Landmark Group’s Shukran loyalty cardholders.
The brand is fulfilling the last-mile delivery internally for SteveMadden.me, since the site is young and traffic is slowly building up. “The stores aren’t very busy now; that’s why, we decided to train some of our store sales executives to handle online orders,” says Shahani.
When asked about leveraging technology pieces to ensure a single view of products and inventory management, Shahani elaborates, “Landmark Group has a highly sophisticated inventory management system. Going forward, we will start leveraging the Group’s centralised inventory management system. As of now, SteveMadden.me is mapped to our warehouse and seven different stores across the UAE.”
In summation, Shahani highlights the importance of building a strong omnichannel presence, “The fashion e-commerce space, due to COVID-19, will go through a massive transformation where offline players will in some years start dominating the online space with a strong omnichannel customer experience. After all, brick-and-mortar and online presence facilitate convenience plus experience for customers, while widening a retailer’s reach and consumer base. I also think several pure-plays in the retail space may not survive in the long run unless they offer a bigger and stronger share of private labels or become logistics service providers to retailers.”