Express Updates 95% of its IT Systems Portfolio, Fortifies Omnichannel Capabilities

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Express Updates 95% of its IT Systems Portfolio, Fortifies Omnichannel Capabilities

By Nicole Gillo - 12/09/2016
Specialty fashion retailer, Express, dedicated 2016 to its key business objectives: improving profitability to balance growth, providing an exceptional brand and customer experience, transforming and operating its IT systems and processes, and investing in its people. Results for Q3 2016 were mixed as the retailer delivered double-digit e-commerce sales, but saw net sales decline 7% and comparable store sales drop 8%.
 
 “Our ability to quickly assess and take action was instrumental in delivering a double-digit increase in e-commerce sales in the third quarter,” said David Kornberg, CEO, Express on a recent call with investors. “But continued more traffic headwinds and the additional time needed to fully correct our choice counts impacted sales in stores.”
 
In September the retailer began the relaunch the Express Next loyalty program to make it easier for Next customers to become fully engaged with the program and utilize their rewards. In October, a portion of the loyalty member base that had not yet completed the registration process was fully activated. During the first month of the relaunch, the program drove a significant year-over-year increase in completed enrollments, a key metrics since Next members are extremely valuable to the brand.
 
“Fully enrolled Next customers spend approximately two and a half times that of a non-fully enrolled member, and four times more than non-loyalty customers,” Kornberg said. “We remain on-track for a full program refresh set to begin in February and continue through the second quarter of 2017. We were pleased to see the initial traction of our corrective actions result in strengthening customer interest in Express and higher e-commerce sales despite facing a challenging environment which we believe impacted our overall performance.”
 
In order to deliver an exceptional brand and customer experience, Express has been head-down on objectives that help drive profitability. These include transforming and upgrading IT systems and processes, and investing in the growth and development of its people.
 
The retailer launched an important IT systems implementation at the start of Q3, including new order management, retail management and enterprise planning systems. During the third quarter, Express began working with these new systems and has been pleased with the progress made in not only employee usage, but also understanding of the new tools. The retailer has now modernized approximately 95% of its portfolio of systems over the past four years.
 
“With most of the investment in focus of these implementations behind us, we can now start to take advantage of using the new system capabilities heading into 2017, including the foundation for us to pursue omnichannel capabilities,” says Kornberg. “We now possess greater insight into our customers shopping preferences which will enable us to personalize and customize promotional offers in conjunction with our loyalty programs.”
 
In addition, the retailer is now able to see inventory across the company, offering a real advantage as it plans and allocates product into 2017 and beyond. Ultimately the systems will allow Express to quicken decision-making, increase speed to market, and conduct planning and allocation to a more precise level, enabling the retailer to have the right inventory across channels leading to lower clearance and therefore, driving more profitable sales. Working with these new IT systems will give the retailer more capability to meet customers' needs heading into 2017.
 
To learn more about Express’ latest tech initiatives, specifically its workforce management implementation designed to help empower associates and facilitate a seamless omnichannel experience, be sure to attend Express’ manager of workforce management and merchandise flow, Jamie Sommerfield session at NRF 2017. On Tuesday, January 17 Sommerfield  will take to the stage to discuss the WFM tech at Exhibitor Insights: Finding the Right Fit: How Express Directed Its Technology Transition