March 29, 2012, 10:53 AM

ShoeDazzle steps away from its subscription model

The online shoe retailer also will start selling apparel and lingerie.

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Bill Strauss today announced it is stepping away from its subscription model. Consumers who subscribe to receive the online shoe retailer’s personalized recommendations no longer need to reply to those picks within six days to avoid being charged.

“The subscription model has been great,” says ShoeDazzle CEO Bill Strauss, who joined the company in September. “But not all women want to shop that way. We have 10 million members to date. We want tens of millions of members. We think the best way to get there is to give customers more choice.”

The retailer’s business model had been to send consumers e-mails once a month, on the first of the month, that contained a link to a personalized showroom on the retailer’s web site. The selections were based on a shopper’s order history, as well as her answers to the site’s “Style Survey,” which asked shoppers to answer such questions as “Which is the shoe that your closet most calls for?” and “Which cosmetics are most likely to grace your face?”

Shoppers could click to buy an item every month, or click to decline to make a purchase. If a shopper failed to respond by 6th of the month, the retailer charged the shopper $39.95—the amount every item on the site sells for—which the consumer could use as a credit for a future purchase. 

The retailer will continue to send a monthly e-mail with the showroom link, but if consumers fail to respond, they will not be charged. Moreover, consumers can buy the items featured in the showroom at anytime, as often as they like.

The online retailer also announced it is moving into the apparel and lingerie categories. The rollout of the new categories will be staggered throughout the next few months.

“We want to increase our share of the closet by outfitting women from head to toe,” Strauss says. “Shoes are an accessory. They’re usually one of the last pieces of an outfit that women buy. Now we can outfit the whole person.”

While every item on the site remains priced at $39.95, the retailer plans to test different pricing strategies as it enters the new categories. “We know from shoes that it isn’t a single price point that appeals to shoppers, but the fact that it’s a great price,” Strauss says.

ShoeDazzle hopes that its moves into apparel and lingerie appeal to its customer base, who tend to be women between the ages 18 to 35 with a household income of around $50,000. But the retailer also hopes that by offering a broader array of merchandise it will attract a larger audience. “We have a large opportunity here,” says Strauss. “And we’re looking to maximize that opportunity.”

ShoeDazzle, was featured in Internet Retailer’s Hot 100 magazine issue, which highlights the most innovative online retailers of 2011. Order your copy of this special issue here.

Lauren Freedman, president of consulting firm the E-tailing Group Inc. will speak during a session entitled “What shoppers want: Listening in on the consumer voice” at the 2012 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago in June. The IRCE $200 early-bird discount expires March 31.

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