Chico’s FAS wants customers to shop its clothing and accessories wherever, whenever and however they want—and according to the company’s latest news, that means on Amazon.
Since launching a turnaround plan two years ago, the mall-based women’s retailer seems to have decided that breaking out of its shopping-center confines is the answer to its many woes.
CEO Shelley Broader—who joined the company in 2015 from her stint as CEO of Walmart EMEA—has helped to steer Chico’s into a number of new opportunities geared at customer acquisition and channel diversification. Broader told analysts on the company’s fourth-quarter 2017 earnings call that petites added $5 million in incremental sales across its Chico’s and White House Black Market (WHBM) brands, the result of “the continued expansion of our special sizes.” In addition, Chico’s FAS jumped into the plus-size market with an Oct. 2017 launch and plans to debut “extended plus sizes” this fall via e-commerce and in stores.
Chico’s FAS also launched its online clearance channel—Chico’s Off The Rack—in Q3 2017. Chico’s recently debuted its partnership with ShopRunner, the membership service with 7 million customers that offers two-day shipping and free returns. Then in Q4, the company cemented wholesale partnerships—its first—with Princess Cruises and Starboard Cruise Services to sell merchandise on a selection of their ships, with an eye toward adding its intimates-focused Soma and younger WHBM brands into the mix in the future.
Continuing the travel theme, Broader said Chico’s FAS expects to roll out by the fourth quarter of this year its first airport concept store—which could be another “first” for the company in potentially co-locating multiple of its brands in a single space.
And now, Chico’s follows a small group of apparel retailers in partnering with Amazon to sell its merchandise on the e-commerce platform beginning in the middle of May. In a statement, Broader said the company will be one of few vertically integrated specialty retailers who merchandise will be eligible for Prime shipping benefits.
The Amazon partnership “is consistent with our strategy to evolve the shopping experience for our customers,” Diane Ellis, Chico’s president, said. “We believe this will provide new avenues of revenue growth, increase brand awareness, drive new customer acquisition and continue to deliver our Most Amazing Personal Service to customers.”
To start, Chico’s will make available a selection of apparel and accessories from its core collections, including the wrinkle-free Travelers, the Zenergy athleisure assortment, iron-free shirts, So Slimming pants and select jewelry, though special sizes including tall, petite and plus will not immediately be available. The brand will have a dedicated storefront, and on the Chico’s landing page, customers can search the available assortment by category, watch the “How Bold Are You?” campaign video and access other branded content.
The company said it’ll likely add merchandise from Soma and WHBH on Amazon going forward, in addition to expanding the selection from the Chico’s brand.
Chico’s is just the latest retail brand to look to Amazon for new energy. Though high-end brands have long kept the retail behemoth at a distance, Calvin Klein raised eyebrows when it partnered with Amazon for a holiday campaign in 2017. Plus, even Nike—the world’s most valuable athletic apparel brand—caved and became a first-party seller on Amazon last summer with the hope of wresting control from a Wild West of third-party vendors.