Personalization Audit: Steve Madden

Steve Madden is one of the most recognizable shoe brands in the world. They also happen to be one of the biggest footwear brands on Shopify Plus, which made them a perfect pick for us to learn more about how they're tackling personalization.

Our LimeSpot Personalization Audits take a close look at the biggest and best-known Shopify brands out there to see how they're doing with personalization - and where they might be leaving sales opportunities on the table. Get the background on our audit process here.

Steve Madden personalization strategy audit

Ranked as a top 20 Shopify store, Steve Madden is a footwear brand with global recognition. While they are typically known for their edgy women's footwear and accessories, Steve Madden also carries men's and children's lines.

The eponymous brand was apparently started by Steve Madden in 1990 for just $1,100, who sold his wares out of the back of his car. Today the company has hundreds of stores around the globe and a wide range of spin-off lines as well, including Madden Girl, Freebird, and Betsey Johnson.

When it comes to the Steven Madden shopping experience, there's generally a few things that can be played up with personalization. First, there's what occasion you're shopping for. Winter boots and strappy sparkly sandals are two completely different experiences.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly - since a shopper could conceivably be buying winter boots and sparkly heels in a single order say, around New Year's - is preference. Footwear aficionados all have their unique tastes in terms of heel height, toe box shape, materials used, and boot rise - not to mention just plain old color and style.

Steve Madden has a pretty expansive line of footwear overall. So how are they catering to people's different tastes when it comes to shoes?

What Steve Madden got right
  • Product detail page (PDP) recommendations: Steve Madden's use of cross-sells is simple, but effective. As a footwear store, the focus is less on buying more things, but making sure customers can find exactly what they want. Their algorithm appears to be relatively well-tuned to find 'like' items. In the example above, shopping a pair of rhinestone sandals brings you five pairs of rhinestone-bedazzled shoes, four of which are also sandals with a flat profile like the one being viewed.

Areas for Steve Madden to enhance
  • Home page bestsellers: Steve Madden is showing customers a bit of personalization by letting them navigate between bestsellers across their core categories (women's, men's, handbags, clothing) on the home page. While normally we caution that tabs won't drive as much result as stacked recommendations, given the lack of overlap between these categories, we think customers will be inclined to click on different tabs based on their interests. Major opportunity missed: These boxes could be labeled bestsellers but feature products recommended for the customer based on their browsing behavior.

Missed personalization opportunities for

Steve Madden

  • Bundles: Steve Madden has an entire section of their site dedicated to pieces that go well together. Yet when you click into the product detail page, the merchandising that's so prevalent on the collection pages completely vanishes. Instead, you're left to rely on the general 'you may like' recommendations. Steve Madden should absolutely be adding bundles to select product pages to sell items that coordinate at the same time.
  • Collections: There is no personalization visible on collection pages. Even adding recently viewed items to the top, side, or bottom of the collection page would help shoppers get back to products they showed an interest in. Also, a shopper's preferences could be used to change the sort order of their collections, for example, by shifting shoes of a certain height to the top of the collection if a customer shows a preferences for heels versus flats.
  • Site personalization: Steve Madden offers much more than shoes. A customer that primarily browses or buys handbags or accessories, or shops the Men's or Kids' collections should have a different experience than the standard 'shoe-first' experience. This could mean tailoring the home page content so that these collections are prioritized in the hero images, including a featured collection from one of these product collections, or even reorganizing the navigation. Learn more about segmenting customers.
  • In-cart cross-selling: Disappointingly, like another major brand we reviewed (ModCloth), Steve Madden has no in-cart cross-sells whatsoever. If you navigate to the /cart page (which isn't an obvious path for the typical user), there is a 'You might also like' recommendation block that serves up relevant recommendations, similar to the product detail pages, but as most customers will never land on this page, it's largely irrelevant. Add to that the fact the items aren't in fact cross-sells, but like items, and it's not going to contribute to a bigger cart size for Steve Madden. Consider the idea of selling items that coordinate well together (like a matching handbag) or items that will enhance their product journey (like protective shoe spray) and you'll see Steve Madden is missing a massive opportunity.


Steve Madden is really doing the bare minimum when it comes to personalization. Their recommendations engine is relatively fine-tuned to the product a customer is viewing, but beyond that there are extremely limited opportunities to interact with any personalized elements.

One simple step Steve Madden could take is to look at offering relevant cross-sells in the form of bundles (showing matching accessories on a page), and at checkout (in the form of an add-on, like shoe protectant or shoe wipes).

Want to see more content like this?

Thanks, you're all signed up!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join the world's fastest-growing indie brands.

Request a Demo