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Summary:

ShoeDazzle had a great thing going with its shoes-as-a-subscription service, and then it decided to switch business models. Now it’s flailing, and people are pointing fingers at new CEO Bill Strauss, but it’s not quite that simple.

brian_lee

Denise Lee Yohn in a blog post earlier this year asked the question Has Shoedazzle lost its dazzle? She argued that the company, which had pioneered the shoes-as-a-subscription service, was making the fatal mistake of changing its business model and becoming a plain vanilla e-commerce player that sold shoes. Yohn didn’t say this, so I will: If my previous magazine Business 2.0 were still around, this move would most definitely qualify for “the dumbest list” we used to put out every year.

Ladies loved LA-based ShoeDazzle’s subscription service, which was cofounded by Kim Kardashian. Joy and love were the two emotions ShoeDazzle’s customers associated with the company. It was such a brilliant idea that it has inspired copycat after copycat. Startups are aping the model. I thought it was a brilliant model, aptly reflecting the times we lived in, though I wasn’t sure about their ability to make money. Maybe that is why the company thought it should switch its business approach!

Today fingers are being pointed at Bill Strauss, a ProFlowers executive who was brought in as the CEO to whip the company into shape. Sarah Lacy, a customer, using an acid-dipped pen writes:

I was happy with the way things were. But since my subscription was suddenly cut off? I haven’t bought a single pair of shoes. It may sound silly, but to buy shoes from ShoeDazzle now would feel like I’m spending $39 on each pair of shoes, rather than spending a free credit.

Effectively, I was saying: Please! Keep taking my money every month forever! And Strauss was saying, “No thanks, I’m going to stop auto-charging you and focus on these people who might want to give us money once or twice.”

While it is easy to blame Strauss, let’s not forget that these replace-the-founder-with-the-professional-CEO decisions happen because investors want those changes, and the board had to approve the business model shift.

What are the odds that ShoeDazzle will make a comeback? Like Lacy, I am betting that it is mission impossible for founder Brian Lee, who has been brought back as CEO to fix what is clearly a messy situation. The senior employee exodus, while not as acute as Zynga’s, is still a pretty big problem. And while Lee can attract new talent, getting customers like Lacy back won’t be that easy!

  1. They stole the idea from Begbagandborrow, who stole it from ____.com…

    Obviously you cannot make money renting shoes when the very shoes you rent have a lifecycle of a few uses and a few months…

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    1. ShoeDazzle does not rent shoes.

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  2. Shoe Dazzle’s return policy SUCKS! I purchased 3 pair of shoes and 4 handbags all within 3 days (my first orders). The shoes hurt my feet and the handbags were too big for a 5″ 1′ woman. I asked to return them and I was given RMA #’s for one pair of shoes and two handbags. I’m very disappointed in your customer service. I called customer support and Leann said “I don’t want to argue with you”. The shoes were never worn and the handbags were touched. What’s the big deal to give me a credit so I can purchase other items! I love the styles. I requested a new show room. I have e-mailed twice – no answer. You need to check your service. I’m going to scream about the rotten return policy that you have on facebook and any other media I can. If this isn’t solved, I won’t be shopping on your website. ANGRY WOMAN: sandrahatfield6619@yahoo.com

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    1. THERE IS NO FREE RETURN POLICY!!! THEY CHARGE $6.00 per item YOUR RETURN IS A ” RESTOCKING FEE” I PURCHASED NEARLY $500.00 worth of items as a first time buyer. EVERY PAIR
      OF SHOES I RECEIVED, DID NOT FIT. I ONLY PURCHASED THESE SHOES BECAUSE THEY WERE ADVERTISED SPECIFIC TO SLIM FIT, ETC. I CALLED TO RETURN 4 PAIRS OF SHOES, THAT I THOUGHT WERE FREE RETURNS…. NOT TRUE..YOU ARE FORCED TO GET STORE CREDIT OR EXCHANGE. IF YOU DO NOT THEY CHARGE YOU $6.00 PER ITEM FOR A RESTOCKING FEE . SO MY FREE RETURN COST ME $24.00. I TOLD THEM I WAS NOT AWARE OF A $5:95/$6.00 RESTOCKING FEE ON THEIR WEBSITE, IT DOES NOT STATE ANYWHERE ON THEIR WEBSITE ABOUT THIS LARGE FEE PER ITEM TO RETURN, NOT STORE CREDIT! IT IS IN THE FINE PRINT HIDDEN FROM BUYERS WHO THINK YOU ARE BUYING FROM A HONEST COMPANY WITH INTEGRITY. SHOEDAZZLE IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK, BEWARE OF “THE BAIT AND SWITCH” APPROACH TO ATTRACT CUSTOMERS. NONE OF SHOEDAZZLES SHOES, FIT CORRECTLY. PLUS PLAN ON PAYING ALMOST $30.00 TO RETURN YOUR FREE RETURN. THEY COULD HAVE ADJUSTED THE RESTOCKING FEE, SINCE I SPENT CLOSE TO $500 AND IT WAS MY FIRST TIME BUYING FROM THIS SHOEDAZZLE AND WAS MADE TO BELIEVE FREE NO HASSLE RETURNS. ALL A SHAM, HOW SAD. THEY LOST S CUSTOMER BY CHOOSING TO NOT HONOR A FREE REFUND, OUT OF COMMON BUSINESS SENSE, TO MAKE UP FOR ALL SHOES NOT FITTING, PLUS A VERY LATE SHIPMENT, ALMOST 2 WEEKS TO RECEIVE MY ORDER, ETC.. I HAVE CONTACTED THE BBB, REGARDING THIS ISSUE. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED ABD AVOIDED BY JAMES, IN CLIENT SERVICES OVER $24.00…FOR HAVING TO PAY THIS ” RESTOCKING FEE”, WHEN SHOEDAZZLE HIDES THAT EXPENSE FROM CUSTOMERS. WHAT A SHAME.!! DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY HERE, I GUESS YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! VERY DISSATISFIED FIRST AND LAST TIME CUTOMER. I CAN’T BELIEVE ANY CELEBRITY WOULD WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO THIS COMPANY IN ANWAY.

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  3. I’m very disappointed at shoedazzle the quality of the shoes are horrible. I regret buying shoes from them. I shop on line and never have a problem with returning items from other sites until now. Shoedazzle makes it impossible for you to return the merchandise. Poor customer service.!!!!!

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    1. I love shodazzle! ·I have a size 6 and a half shoe. if you have big feet you should not be wearing high heels.

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