Bringing in several former colleagues from Lands’ End to help restructure the company, Dyer led the initiative for Chico’s to invest more than $30 million – more than a third of its total capital budget – in new systems to
effectively manage its flourishing direct-to-consumer business.
Enhancing Direct Business
Chico’s began its technology overhaul by upgrading its e-commerce platform to add more functionalities and flexibility. The new e-commerce suite improved image management capabilities and created a more compelling shopping experience, boosting direct-to-consumer business.
Over the past two years Chico’s has made an effort to drive traffic to its website through customer communications and digital marketing. Chico’s has one of the largest customer loyalty programs in retailing, and over the years has amassed a huge database of customer contact information. The company
integrated this database with SAS OnDemand: Marketing Automation. E-mail promotions are targeted towards pushing customers to buying online, and it has paid off, with large annual increases in online revenues.
With the increase in online sales, Chico’s shifted the sale of slow-moving products from stores to online. Holding items in distribution centers rather than stores’ back rooms reduced the number of marked-down and liquidated items.
“Selling online is a much more profitable way to handle slow-moving items,” says Gary King, executive vice president and CIO of Chico’s. “We only move products to the stores that have a high probability of selling.”
Additionally, all stores are now broadband-enabled so associates can track shipments to consumers on large touchscreens. The computers can also be used for processing home deliveries, locating merchandise, labor scheduling and training new staff.
With the increase of online sales, Chico’s also worked to streamline shipments. The company integrated the JDA merchandising suite with the SAP enterprise resource planning system already in place to ensure the right products go to the right places at the right time.
Chico’s is looking to move forward in 2011 by finishing the implementation of the PTC product lifecycle management system, which will track development of products from conception to purchase order.
Also on Chico’s to-do list is a pilot project to evaluate RFID item-level tagging,
POS automation, customer mobile apps and evaluation of customer feedback through social media, all projects that are in exploratory stages.
For more detailed information about Chico’s technology revamp see the February 2011 Apparel article “Chico’s Comeback” on www.apparelmag.com.