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CSA Exclusive: Chico’s turns stores into omnichannel hubs

Chico’s FAS is modernizing the technology that supports omnichannel operations at its brick-and-mortar stores.

In a session at the Momentum 2019 conference in Phoenix, Ariz., Chico’s executives described how the specialty women’s apparel retailer is developing a modern, omnichannel store model focused on customer engagement.

“Our stores were fulfilling orders using an out-of-date, proprietary system,” said Marcela Quintana, manager, omnichannel strategy & operations, Chico’s FAS. “We wanted our customers to be able to shop any channel. Shipping from the store is not an easy journey. You’re not only selling through the front door, but through the back door.”

In addition to upgrading its ship-from-store infrastructure, the retailer also sought to refresh the in-store customer experience to enable personalized engagement and seamless shopping, based on real-time access to a customer’s omnichannel history. This would enable the store to become part of an overall brand experience that engaged with the customer before and after the store visit.

Chico’s realized a flexible technology infrastructure that could deliver customer service through any associate or shopper device would be necessary to support this type of seamless store environment. Having utilized Manhattan Associates warehouse management and supply chain intelligence solutions since 2002, Chico’s decided to roll out Manhattan Associates’ enterprise order management and store inventory and fulfillment applications in January 2017.

In November 2017, Chico’s further enhanced its in-store omnichannel offerings by providing customers real-time, enterprise-wide inventory visibility through their own devices, as well as via associate devices. The retailer also created the ability for customers to place online orders at a local store through associates, and to return items bought in a brick-and-mortar store or online at any store.

In June 2018, Chico’s rolled out its upgraded ship-from-store capability. By the end of the second quarter of 2019, the retailer plans to officially launch its BOPIS program. Both of these functionalities are supported by Manhattan Associates store inventory and fulfillment technology.

As a result of its expanded Manhattan Associates rollout, Chico’s can now perform inventory management at the store/SKU level, rather than only at the distribution center level. Associates manage store-based applications with iPads, and also at the POS.

“You have to embrace and include store leadership from the beginning,” advised Quintana. “Stores are anxious to fulfill orders on markdown items to clear space, but not so much to fulfill orders for full-priced items that are already selling well.”
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