Key Benefit of Pacific Sunwear iPad Deployment: Engaging Young Shoppers

Pacific Sunwear's 300-store deployment of iPad tablet technology provides the retailer with communications cost savings and save-the-sale capabilities, but it's the customer engagement with the chain's younger shoppers that offers the biggest benefit.

"The most exciting piece is the customer engagement, the ability to show outfits, show different looks, ship them sizes if we don't have their size in that particular store and do it in a very quick and convenient way, and in a way that this generation expects to be engaged with," said Pacific Sunwear CEO Gary Schoenfeld during a recent conference call.

The iPads are currently deployed in 300 of Pacific Sunwear's 821 stores, with plans to expand to 100 more stores throughout the rest of 2011. The tablets leverage the Global Bay iPad Retailing App. The software enables team members to quickly search for in-demand styles and sizes on a real-time basis to help drive customer throughput as well as "tell more stories about our brands and our fashion and create a more dynamic overall customer experience and engagement with our brand reps," said Schoenfeld.

"Our IT team felt like there was a real opportunity to get out in front of what the technology of iPads could be," he added. "We have the ability to walk and talk at the same time and engage with customers, bring brands to life. It's also a tool where we're communicating to our brand reps more directly, and sharing more brand knowledge and product knowledge." In addition, the iPads "save us costs in other things that we communicate to stores and things that we would send to stores."

Pacific Sunwear has struggled in recent years. Its $214.9 million in net sales during Q2 of 2011 represents a 1.5% decline from the same period in 2010, and the company's current store count of 821 locations is down from 880 stores at the same time last year. Comp store sales did increase by 1% during the quarter, which ended July 30, 2011, making this the second consecutive quarter of comp store sales improvements since 2007.

Schoenfeld sees the tablet deployment as one of the chain's competitive differentiators: "I believe we are one of the first specialty apparel retailers to take advantage of this capability, and we are very encouraged by the initial response we've experienced," he said.

For related content: Pacific Sunwear Deploys Tablet Technology in 300 Stores
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