Madden Direct will ease fulfillment for shoemaker

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Retailers peddling Steve Madden Ltd.'s popular platform shoes and ultrahip accessories no longer have to worry about stocking up on every color, style and size.

The Long Island City, N.Y., shoe company recently created Madden Direct, a subsidiary that can fill retail purchases direct to consumers and manage sales generated by e-commerce Web sites (stevemadden.com and stevies.com).

Steve Madden has partnered with an unidentified company that will handle fulfillment and customer service for the sites and the partnership with wholesale clients.

ONLINE SALES

The new fulfillment capability provides Steve Madden with enough inventory to handle increased Internet sales -- especially with the anticipated launch of its Stevies line aimed at girls and teens -- as well as ship shoes directly to consumers on behalf of clients.

The Steve Madden site had $1 million in revenue last year; that's expected to triple in 2000.

Internet demand for shoes quickly outgrew the available stock at Steve Madden's flagship store in New York and more recently has overwhelmed the warehouse near corporate headquarters that could hold between 3,500 and 4,000 pairs of shoes, said Rhonda Brown, Steve Madden president-chief operating officer.

Ms. Brown said it quickly became clear that Steve Madden could take advantage of the needed increased inventory by working with its wholesale partners.

Nordstrom will be the first retailer to use the new system, Ms. Brown said, adding she plans to offer the new fulfillment plan to all major department stores as well as specialty stores across the U.S.

OTHER CHANNELS

The system also can be used in a variety of other purchasing channels, said Stuart Schwartz, newly named president of Madden Direct.

"By outsourcing and using a third party [for fulfillment], it puts us in a position where we can scale up as quickly as need be," Mr. Schwartz said. "Scalability is the key. It will allow us to handle all channels."

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