On the heels of a record-setting first quarter, The Container Store Group revealed its new CIO is implementing a robust technical roadmap to support its growth plans.
Dhritiman Saha, who came from GameStop where he was the chief digital officer, joined the company back in June and is providing vision for developing and implementing technology strategies and initiatives company wide.
For example, retailer is actively working on technology that would allow it to ship from store, as well as a mobile point of sale solution. The mPOS solution will help the retailer dramatically improve checkout speed, CEO Satish Malhotra said on the earnings call, and will make The Container Store’s online assortment available in-store and support its new smaller store format concept. The retailer opened its first new smaller format store in Annapolis, MD, in Q1 2021 and early results are exceeding expectations, he noted. The retailer plans to open an even smaller 12,000-square-foot store in Colorado Springs, CO, in 2022.
“The customer response has been outstanding from opening day,” said Malhotra. “We're excited about the demand of our stores in different markets. We not only see great growth opportunities in new markets, but also expansion opportunities in existing markets with a smaller footprint store using a hub-and-spoke model.”
The Container Store expects total capital expenditures for the year to be approximately $47 million and said it is also working on enhancing its e-commerce experience through a faster site, engaging content, more relevant site searches and recommendations, and additional payment options.
In Q1, the retailer delivered record setting first quarter results from both a net sales and profitability perspective.
“This achievement is really worth repeating,” said Malhotra. “We delivered profitability for the very first time in over a decade during our first fiscal quarter, which has traditionally been a loss-making quarter due to lower sales and the inability to leverage on our fixed expenses.”
The Container Store achieved consolidated net sales of $245 million for the quarter, growing nearly 62% compared to last year and 17% over Q1 2019. The retailer’s POP! loyalty program hit almost 10.3 million members enrolled at the end of Q1, signifying the total increase of approximately 15% on a year-over-year basis. Around 75% of sales are linked to the POP! program, providing The Container Store rich data to offer customers more personalized and targeted interaction.
The retailer also transformed its front of store presentation by focusing exclusively on curated products at full price supported with compelling before and after customer testimonial graphics.
“The front of store presentation providing customers with an opportunity to learn, discover, and engage with key merchandise offerings from our kitchen and closet category,” said Malhotra. “The bold changes we made in our custom closet promotions and front of store transformation serve to drive both sales as well as gross margin expansion during the first quarter. Another area changed during Q1, was our in-store and online customer experience. We positively enhanced our in-store customer experience through the addition of greeters and selling specialists.”
This move was funded by reducing non-selling payroll hours. Based on positive results, he said the retailer will now be zoning specialists in key areas of the store to help assist and engage with customers.
“The changes implemented in Q1 combined with the dedicated work of our stores, distribution centers and support teams fueled our outstanding Q1 performance,” said Malhotra. “As we look forward, we are optimistic that our actions will continue to support our goal of driving continued growth.”