Pier 1 Imports' Strategic Investments Starting to Bear Fruit

Tim Denman
Editor in Chief
a man wearing a suit and tie

Pier 1 Imports continued investment in its digital initiatives are helping pull the retailer back from the edge of collapse. While Pier 1 continues to close struggling stores, e-commerce sales are soaring, increasing by 20% over the past year.

“Certainly, the omnichannel transformation has been a challenge, and it’s been a tough go, but I think we’ve gotten through it,” said Terry London, interim president and CEO, Pier 1 on a recent earning call with analysts. “I do believe for the future, it really presents some great opportunities for us as we work through this retail environment. There’s a strong culture here at Pier 1, and that’s indicated in the brand and the loyalty base. And we’ve really had demonstrated some resilience in this changing and challenging retail environment over the last few years.”

The retailer will be bringing on a new CEO, Alasdair James, on May 1. After an extensive search the board agreed that the former K-Mart president was the right candidate to oversee the brand’s continued evolution.

When James takes his seat in the corner office he will be at the head of an organization in the midst of serious investment designed to not only increase sales, but forge greater engagement with its loyal shopping base.

Below are some of the key investments, strategies and results Pier 1 is currently experiencing to bolster its booming digital sales and increase the profitability of its physical footprint:


  • Increasing marking spend to 6% of sales. The brand’s first planned increase in marketing spend, totally around $1 million.
  • Inventing marketing dollars in television and digital advertising. Experimenting with more expensive 30-second TV commercials.
  • Recently launched loyalty program, Pearl, continues to bring more customers into the database and drive a higher percentage of sales attributed to loyalty customers.


  • Continues to invest in analytics to support decision-making and product selection, pricing, promotions, planning and allocations. 
  • Inventory decreased 1% this year, after a major 15% reduction they prior year.
  • Margins increased to $300 million last year, up from $285 million the year before.
  • Increase in margin credited to: better sourcing and careful management of inventory, lower clearance levels, more effective promotions, and increased supply chain efficiencies.

Supply Chain

  • Implemented a drop ship program.
  • Lowered its free shipping threshold and the majority of orders became eligible.
  • Implementing new DC processes to improve overall efficiency, and consolidating it Columbus DC and fulfillment centers.
  • Pickup in-store continues to grow in popularity.


  • Investments in site optimization to deliver a memorable customer experience ― focus on functionality, content and next-gen features.
  • E-commerce sales grew to more than $360 million in fiscal 2017, which was 20% of total sales.
  • Expects e-commerce sales to increase another 20% this year.


  • Plans to close 20 to 25 stores over the next year.
  • Examining the store portfolio for operational and cost efficiently.
  • When stores close the retailer retains 20% of in-store sales. Customers will travel to a neighboring store. Also, retains about 80% of online sales in the area.
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