Executive Retail Insights: An Interview with Ed Rosenfeld of Steve Madden

Executive Retail Insights: An Interview with Ed Rosenfeld of Steve Madden

This month FDRA interviewed Ed Rosenfeld, the Chairman and CEO of Steve Madden about “how the economy is impacting the footwear industry’s sales, trends in fast fashion, and the future of footwear retail.”

FDRA: We have seen such volatility in the American stock market, as well as a lot of unpredictability in foreign exchange rates thanks to China’s economic volatility. Do you see these Wall Street troubles impacting ‘main street’ footwear retail sales in America in any way? What about retail abroad, how do you see sales playing out with the dollar’s strength this year?

Rosenfeld: We don’t believe the volatility in the markets is having a significant impact on our business in the US, as our core customer is pretty insulated from stock market fluctuations. We are seeing some negative impact on business in tourist locations due to the stronger dollar. On the other hand, we have benefited from being able to source products from countries like Italy, Brazil and Mexico at more favorable costs.As for business outside of the US, the strengthening dollar does make things more challenging as our goods are now more expensive in local currencies, but so far our international business remains strong.

FDRA: How are footwear sales in the fashion and fast fashion footwear segment this year? Are any types or styles of your footwear more popular than others, and what are some fall and winter styles that are going to be winners across the country?

Rosenfeld: 2015 has been a good year for fashion footwear. Our dress shoes, fashion sneakers and sandals have been the highlights. For Fall/Winter, we like ankle booties and over-the-knee boots.

FDRA: We hear time and again that if a company isn’t innovating its falling behind its competitors. What are some innovations you and your team have considered, or have implemented, to make sure you continue to reach and connect with consumers and turn browsers into buyers?

Rosenfeld: Like others in the industry, we have invested in our e-commerce and omni-channel capabilities. Last year, we implemented a new e-commerce platform that integrates social sharing, editorial commerce and improved targeting to offer customers a faster and superior shopping experience, particularly on mobile devices. The new platform is driving much improved conversion on mobile, where we now get over 60% of our site traffic.

FDRA: What is one of the biggest challenges you see our industry facing today?

Rosenfeld: The pace of change in how the customer shops is breakneck. We all have to continue to change and adapt our business models or we’ll get left behind.

FDRA: Online sales account for almost 25% of all footwear sales in the U.S. How do you balance your supply chain to capitalize on both Ecommerce and sales in your nearly 200 stores across the county? How has Ecommerce changed your marketing approach?

Rosenfeld: We have been focused on an omni-channel approach for a long time; we began fulfilling e-commerce orders from stores back in 2006. Having a shared inventory for e-commerce and stores helps us to manage inventory effectively and maximize sales across channels.

FDRA: Last question, and we ask everyone a personal footwear question, what brand of shoes do you wear to the office?

Rosenfeld: That’s an easy one. Steve Madden, of course!