Shoebuy Branches Out, Ups Brand Mix

NEW YORK — Shoebuy.com, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, is on the expansion trail.

Over the past year, the IAC/Interactive-owned e-tailer, in addition to growing its U.S. site, unveiled a similar version for the U.K., a flash sales site Events.shoebuy.com, the speed-driven Productexpress.com and a floral delivery site called Floraflora.com.

“We have a lot of things going on,” said CEO Scott Savitz. “And we remain extremely active at expanding on our selection, which is something that has created value for the consumer.”

In September, Shoebuy.co.uk debuted, offering brands such as Rocket Dog, Naturalizer and United Nude. The site was created after Savitz received requests from consumers for a similar site in the London market. So far, it is a hit with British consumers. “We continue to add a lot of new brands, and [the site] is showing all the promise we’d want to see on a new venture,” said Savitz.

Back in the U.S. the company is expanding into business-to-business work, by launching e-commerce websites on behalf of vendor partners such as Bruno Magli and Easy Street.

Brand selection continues to be a major focus on the main site and this year 250 labels were added to the mix for a total of more than 1,000 brands, including Crocs, Dr. Martens, Timberland, Sperry Top-Sider, Merrell, Minnetonka Moccasin and New Balance.

“We grew aggressively through the economic downturn [because] consumers responded to brands they’ve grown to know and love,” said Savitz, adding that the site has more than 6.5 million visitors per month.

Doug Hayes, VP and GM of the Americas for Crocs, attributes the site’s success to its “breadth of assortment” and effective inventory management.

“We’re ecstatic with how the Crocs and Shoebuy partnership is working,” said Hayes. “Crocs went through some difficult times and we’ve recovered, but Shoebuy is one [account] that stuck with us during the [tough] times.”

This March, Shoebuy also began offering private sales at 50 to 90 percent off for members who joined its Events.shoebuy.com site. More than 5,000 new guests sign up daily and members total 2 million, Savitz said.

The initiatives are paying off. While the private firm would not release financials, Savitz said company sales continue to improve.

Meanwhile, its marketing budget is the lowest it has been since 2002, but awareness has been growing, thanks to social networking, the Shoebuy blog and word-of-mouth.

The increasing number of customers on the main site has allowed Shoebuy to expand. When Productexpress.com launched late last year, offering overnight delivery for accessories product, Savitz was responding to customer surveys requesting a faster way to shop. The same month, Shoebuy launched Designer.shoebuy.com to incorporate more upscale brands, including Nicole Miller, Hugo Boss, Bally and Donald J Pliner.

And in November 2009, the firm launched Floraflora.com after Savitz noticed low customer satisfaction ratings on the existing sites that sold flowers. “We applied exactly what we do in our intense consumer focus in the flower category,” he said.

Looking ahead, Savitz said opportunities abound for the firm. “There are so many different opportunities when you create that relationship with the customer,” he said. “[Next year] you’ll see the same company, just much bigger. It wouldn’t be fun [slowing down].”

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