Paul Cheney

Direct Marketing vs. Wholesale Marketing: How Steve Madden organizes and optimizes its $1.4 billion shoe empire

June 9th, 2016

When your business is 80% wholesale like Steve Madden, how do you carve out a unique value proposition for your direct ecommerce business?


Watch the full interview to find out

“The value proposition of our site is that we have the deepest selection [and] we have it before anyone else.”

So said Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce for Steve Madden, yesterday during a live interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

Additionally, Mark mentions the company’s community of rabid Steve Madden fans in social channels and through the SM Mag.

“It’s crazy how people feel about the brand. We incorporate that into the site, and that gives others some perspective of how some people are wearing it. You’re getting to see not only the product that they bought, but their complete look and how they put it together,” Mark said.

Of course, because the business is 80% wholesale, Steve Madden can’t just leave partners out in the cold. To balance its relationship with partners, Mark mentions the team employs a variety of tactics, including:

  • Syndicate product photography done in-house
  • Syndicate product reviews that were written on


Other highlights from the interview

In addition to talking about managing wholesale vs. direct components of the business, Mark talked a little about optimization.

Here are just three of the key takeaways from the chat:

  • Focusing on optimization rather than generating traffic proved successful for Steve Madden.
  • A/B testing and data mining can uncover places where your visitors are having difficulty. It’s often little things that are frustrating them.
  • Small improvements to the speed and reliability of the site generated a surprisingly significant conversion increase for the company.

To watch other interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center, visit our IRCE 2016 Media Page


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Paul Cheney

About Paul Cheney

Paul Cheney, Senior Partnership Content Manager, MECLABS Paul helps turn raw research into easy-to-understand content for MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa readers. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Covenant College. Before joining the MarketingExperiments and Sherpa team, Paul wrote grant proposals and fundraising letters for a mid-size nonprofit in New Jersey. He has also worked as a freelance Internet marketing consultant and copywriter for small businesses. In his spare time, Paul enjoys reading, writing poems, and dating his wife, Callie.

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