COMPASS MAGAZINE #10
COMPASS MAGAZINE #10

CHICO'S Assembling a virtual outfit

Mobile devices and social applications have caught on like wildfire. Marketers are using these digital tools, including 3D visualization technology, to earn their time on our screens. In this Gallery of Great Marketing, Compass profiles a number of companies and organizations that thought outside the traditional frame of what marketing can accomplish.

With retail consumers’ rapidly shifting shopping, buying and technology-adoption behaviors, Eric Singleton, CIO of women’s fashion retailer Chico’s, realized the company needed a digital road map to stay in step with its audience.

Chico’s “Digital Retail Theatre” omni-channel strategy combines research, data and analytics to understand customers’ habits and create a path from discovery to transaction as shoppers crisscross digital and in-store channels for the four Chico’s retail brands: Chico’s, White House/Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper.

“Retailers would grab onto a singular technology and believe that if they put it in-store, it would make a difference in incremental sales,” Singleton said. “No one was thinking about why it might work or why it might fail.”

The company analyzed a typical consumer’s day with an eye toward discerning where and how Chico’s might fit in. Innovative technologies were then created to serve those opportunities. For instance, the company’s interactive touchscreen tables, created for Chico’s by MongoDB and installed at Boston Proper stores, let in-store shoppers search and shop virtually as they assemble individual pieces into finished ensembles. The tables are purposefully crafted to serve as social watering holes, with 10-inch borders that can hold coffee cups, hanger hooks for purses and stools for gathering around. The company’s goal was to increase incremental sales by 10% per day in stores that had the tables, but the actual results have averaged 15% to 20%, Singleton said.

Customer books used at 660 Chico’s stores – and moving into White House/Black Market -- are another tech innovation, arming tablet-toting sales associates with a database of each shopper’s preferences and purchase histories, which associates can use to help customers in real time.

“We didn’t envision this, but customers really appreciate that we have this level of information about them that provides a much richer and better experience,” Singleton said.

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