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Chico’s Takes a Page from Amazon’s Book With Same-Day Delivery

With the holiday season officially underway and logistics companies seeing a surge in e-commerce orders, Chico’s FAS has partnered with delivery platform Roadie to offer its customers same-day shipping.

The parent company of Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma said the partnership will give customers the option to request four-hour, same-day delivery at the time their buy-online-pickup-in-store and curbside orders are ready. As of Tuesday, the service was available at 97 percent of stores, it said.

Founded in 2014, Roadie works with consumers, small businesses and corporations to provide “a faster, cheaper, more scalable solution” for scheduled, same-day and urgent delivery. With more than 200,000 verified drivers, the crowdsourced delivery platform covers 89 percent of U.S. households, the largest local same-day delivery footprint in the nation, it claims. In short, Roadie says it “connects people with stuff to send to drivers already heading in the right direction.”

The addition of same-day delivery arrives as the women’s specialty retailer ramps up its efforts to pivot to being a digital-first company. Begun a year and a half ago, Chico’s FAS has accelerated this transformation amid the pandemic, fast-tracking several investments in innovation and digital technology, CEO and president Molly Langenstein said in the company’s third-quarter earnings call on Nov. 24.

To better leverage the customer data it has collected for more than three decades, Chico’s FAS teamed up with San Francisco-based CRM giant Salesforce. The partnership, Langenstein said, will help Chico’s FAS track the omni-channel customer journey; create more engaging, personalized and targeted marketing and messaging using predictive intelligence; and adjust marketing in real-time based on trends or customer actions.

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On Oct. 28, the retailer joined the “buy now, pay later” movement and began allowing customers to pay in interest-free installments using Afterpay. Less than a month later, Langenstein said early reads had shown “a meaningful increase in average order value as well as conversion and unit-per-transaction improvement.”

Additionally, Chico’s FAS has enabled a new analytical tool from content management system provider Contentstack that will allow it to bring content to consumers based upon personal preference, region and weather.

These changes arrive as e-commerce sees a massive surge in sales. Adobe Analytics reported a 48.8 percent spike in online shopping from Dec. 1 to Dec. 9 compared to the same period last year. Adobe analyzes 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs and 80 of the 100 largest retailers in the U.S., it said.

The company attributed the jump to shoppers accelerating online spending ahead of today, the predicted date shipping costs are expected to increase in order to receive gifts by Christmas. Though prices have risen between approximately 5 percent and 8 percent since Thanksgiving week, Adobe said discounts continue to be strong across all categories, including sporting goods, toys, appliances, televisions and electronics.

Based on current online shopping behaviors, the company predicted U.S. online holiday sales will total at least $184 billion, a 30 percent bump compared to 2019. Season spending to date stands at $136 billion, a 32.6 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

From Nov. 1 to Dec. 9, curbside pickup has grown more than 88 percent year over year, Adobe noted. Curbside ordering during this period comprised 23 percent of all online orders. Looking at Dec. 1 to Dec. 9, the service grew 94 percent compared to last year, with retailers who offer it experiencing a 33 percent higher conversion rate than those who don’t, Adobe said. After today, it said it expects curbside to top 50 percent of the share of orders shipped from retailers that offer this service.

Chico’s FAS’s recent digital push has coincided with declining year-over-year total sales. Despite sequential improvement, third-quarter total sales fell 27.5 percent compared to last year, reflecting a decline in in-store sales and the impact of 63 net permanent store closures. Digital sales, meanwhile, have continued to experience double-digit growth, Langenstein said. Of the company’s brands, Soma, which sells the kind of easy-wearing, comfortable, lounge-friendly garments that consumers are reaching for today, saw the greatest digital growth with a 67 percent jump in sales.

Nearly two years ago, Chico’s FAS launched StyleConnect, a proprietary digital styling tool designed for connecting customers with style experts to receive personalized advice. In the third quarter, the company added a “Shop the Look” component, which Langenstein said increased engagement and units per transaction. StyleConnect sales, she added, more than doubled in the third quarter compared to last year and jumped more than 40 percent over the second quarter.

The company also recently accelerated the launch of MyCloset, a personalized shopping feature designed to augment customers’ closets by coordinating with past purchases. Sales for this tool doubled from the second to third quarter, according to Langenstein. “Since launch, the conversion rate of this new feature has been remarkable, exceeding sixth time the site average conversion rate,” she said.