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Chico’s marketing automation strategy pays dividends

Chico’s FAS, a women’s retail company, was having a hard time using customer data effectively. A loyalty program provided plenty of data, but it was siloed within the company’s three individual brands: Chico’s, White House/Black Market and Soma. Customer modeling, handled externally, took too long to process, leaving marketers at Chico’s unable to leverage customer insight for campaigns. 

For an organization with more than 1,000 boutiques, the ability to deliver fast, targeted promotions to its clientele is crucial. The retail industry slump compounded the issue.

“In 2007 and 2008, Chico’s had two dreadful years financially,” says Charlie White, VP of CRM at Chico’s. “It’s fair to say we were one of the players that led the retail industry into the recession.” 

STRATEGY: Chico’s required a fix that would integrate large volumes of data and automate marketing processes, while remaining user friendly. Chico’s decided to implement the SAS OnDemand: Marketing Automation platform. 

SAS provided Chico’s with the functionality to segment catalog mailings, differentiate promotional efforts and track them. The retailer was also able to change the strategy of weaker promotions mid-campaign and identify lapsed customers. Silos between the three Chico’s brands were broken down to drive cross-selling to customers with similar profiles.

RESULTS: The marketing automation implementation gave Chico’s a newfound agility. The retailer produced campaigns in four days that had previously turned into month-long projects. This speed allowed the company to build a bigger first-time consumer base and to retain previously lapsed customers at a higher rate. 

The company rebounded dramatically in 2009. During the fourth quarter holiday rush, the company reported $17
million in profit, versus a loss of $42 million in the same quarter the previous year. 

White does not attribute his company’s success entirely to the implementation, he says it did enable Chico’s to engage in discussions that are much more quantitative and strategically oriented. “It’s really the knowledge that drives customer behavior that is the most important aspect of having SAS,” he says. 

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