"The Express Request now accounts to roughly 15% of total sales, and we see room for plenty of additional growth," said Pier 1 president and CEO Alex Smith on a recent call with analysts. "We intend to continue to expand our XR assortments in fiscal 2015, and this is over and above our online-only SKU growth."
A new POS system is also proving beneficial to Express Request. With new systems in place to improve inventory availability accuracy, prompt delivery to the customer and store, as well as a positive in-store order experience is ensured. "Express Request is already been a home run for us, and we're excited about the potential we've yet to tap into," continued Smith.
"As we expected, our newly installed POS system is significantly enhancing the customer shopping experience and serving as a highly effective selling tool for our associates," noted Smith. "This was particularly beneficial over the Black Friday weekend, when we were able to position our most seasoned associates on the selling floor. Sales for both Black Friday and the full holiday weekend were the highest in the company's history."
The retail is also pleased with the operating performance of both its website and fulfillment center. The increased volumes have been managed with little to no service decline during the busy trading days around the holidays. Pier 1 will continue to introduce enhancements to the site in 2014. Major upgrades in enhancement in Q2 focused on the customer experience, while changes made in Q3 focused primarily on the back office. The evolution of pier1.com and its supporting systems are part of the retailer's ongoing 1 Pier 1 omnichannel strategy. According to Smith, "you can fully expect that we will continue to refine and improve the user experience, as well as the back office interfaces in the coming quarters."
But it's not just about adding new functionality. While an e-commerce team is built out and operations are fine-tuned, the retailer's ability to exploit the functionality it has already built is increasing rapidly.
Stores are embracing the 1 Pier 1 omnichannel more and more. Although it is in early days, there has been growth in e-commerce purchases made by customers when in a Pier 1 Imports store, "We expect that activity to increase meaningfully next year, when e-commerce purchases will be incorporated into the sales targets at the store level," said Smith.
As customers make more of their purchases using pier1.com and take possession of their purchases via pickup in-store, ship to store and ship to home, or a combination thereof, Pier 1 expects that e-commerce and store sales will become increasingly interconnected. The traditional role of the store will expand to become a showroom and advice center for online assortment, a convenient location to pickup an online order or to return an online purchase.
A key to Pier 1's customer engagement strategy is its personalization. New e-mail software enables the retailer to identify and target marketing messages more specifically than ever before. "We believe that a more powerful, customized call to action will not only help us to drive traffic and conversion, but equally important, help us to gain more valuable long-term customers," said Smith.
"We have so many things in our favor," continued Smith. "We have talented merchants, unique assortments and an exceptional planning and allocation team, a new robust POS system, highly energetic and passionate store associates and a growing omnichannel capability, just to name a few. We will continue to capture incremental market share in the coming years, as we have done in the last five. If it takes a slightly more promotional stance in the current environment, our business model can support it."
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How Sears, DSW, Cabela's and Pier 1 Prep for Peak Selling Season
Pier 1's $100M Tech Investment Keeps Stores in Spotlight
Pier 1 Builds Its Own Systems, Takes a New Look at SKUs
Pier 1 Imports POS Rollout to Go Chainwide by Summer