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Torrid Thrives Post-Pandemic Through Authenticity, Engagement

Torrid’s stock price jumped 31 percent following its earnings call on Thursday, in which the women’s plus-size retailer reported $332.9 million in Q2 sales—a 34 percent increase from the previous quarter and the first earnings report since becoming a public company. On the call, it announced plans to open approximately 25 new stores annually in targeted markets, and launch a website dedicated to its Curve lingerie line due to the category’s success.

In a discussion broadcasted during the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference the same day, Torrid CEO Liz Munoz attributed the positive news to the retailer’s unwavering authenticity and intimate knowledge of the plus-size industry.

“I’ve been a big girl my whole life, and it was always a challenge [to find stylish clothes],” she said. “Torrid offered the opportunity to do something very different. We had a lot of conversations about where to start, and if there was one singular thing that we should focus on, it would be fit.”

Munoz added that well-fitting clothing has a big impact on an individual’s self-confidence, noting that “your clothing is what touches you the most—all day and all night throughout life.”

That’s why Munoz’s strategy was to continue focusing on fit and maintaining the authenticity that made it a success, even when the Covid-19 pandemic forced many stores to temporarily close. The company launched customer-focused benefits such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) to make purchases more convenient, as starting a program enabling store employees to connect with customers over Zoom and guide them through fit selection.

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By listening to customers expressing that they needed more information on fit pertaining to the brand’s new bra range, Torrid immediately got to work creating a video on how customers could measure themselves in the comfort of their own homes, Munoz noted, describing the video as “incredibly well-received.”

Leveraging its customer loyalty program was another strategy for continuing engagement throughout the pandemic and beyond. Like other brands navigating the pandemic, Torrid got creative with its rewards system, offering points for customer actions such as posting content on Instagram, opening a marketing email, posting reviews and adding accompanying photos.

“User-generated content is something that our customer interacts with four times more than a polished image,” Munoz said. “So getting customers to post was important.”

She added that paid social is a major part of the brand’s marketing strategy, calling partnerships with influencers the “digital version of word-of-mouth.” To that point, Torrid is setting its sights on creating a “posse” of people creating content on social media—particularly with TikTok, which continues to prove successful for brands such as Gap, which recently saw viral engagement after an influencer posted about its classic brown hoodie. The brand has since gone on to create marketing campaigns around the product to ride the social media moment and capitalize on its relevance.

Despite all of Torrid’s success, company, like its retail peers, was not able to fully avoid the effects of the pandemic. Chief operating officer Michael Salmon noted that supply chain issues are still prevalent, with a delivery timeline in the front half of the year of 10-14 days. Since then, he said, it’s gotten worse.

“We are definitely seeing a few more days, and in the case of Vietnam, a week longer, to get the goods,” he said.

To make up for delays, the company began writing its deliveries two weeks earlier and asking vendors to start their booking process 28 days in advance as opposed to 14 days in advance, which would provide the company with a “tremendous amount of flexibility in terms of securing transportation.”

It also added more transparency into the pipeline so it could determine whether to use ocean freight or air to ship goods, and considered shipping to different ports around the country.

“During covid, we started to explore these options,” he said. “Our efforts are starting to ramp up, as we think this is not an issue that’s going to go away anytime soon.”