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Chico’s Taps the Power of Personal Connections to Virtually Connect Associates and Shoppers

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When women’s apparel retailer Chico’s first sought to modernize its retail experience, the goal was to offer customers a more robust, personalized shopping experience and the ability to engage with its associates anywhere, and on any device. In 2018, the brand partnered with Salesfloor to deploy a new mobile platform for associates — known as StyleConnect — combining clienteling and mobile checkout with a customer-facing interface embedded on the retailer’s ecommerce site.

Little did Chico’s know that its move to digitize the customer journey would be so instrumental come 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the retailer to shutter its boutiques for more than a month. When high demand for online shopping kicked in, Chico’s was able to use the mobile platform to extend the in-store experience online, while also empowering associates to deliver personalized service beyond the physical store.

“Our customers have strong relationships with our associates, and while their first preference may be to visit with them in the store physically, when this was not possible, they were happy to stay connected and continue to receive style advice virtually,” said Rebecca Reeder, SVP, Stores at Chico’s FAS in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our associates know what their customers have in their closets and their preferred styles, and can make the best suggestions about what they might like to continue to build their wardrobe. StyleConnect provides customers with a highly personalized shopping experience and superior sales service levels, whether in-store or online.”

Since launching StyleConnect in 2018, Chico’s has seen year-over-year growth in KPIs such as conversion and revenue, Reeder said. “In 2020, we significantly beat our StyleConnect sales plan with strong double-digit growth,” she added.

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Multiple Vehicles for Associate-Customer Communication

Store associates use the StyleConnect platform to connect with customers via email, social media and SMS. Live shopping apps embedded on the brand’s websites allow customers to review personalized looks as they are assisted by their local store employee, and associates continuously update their personal storefronts with curated product recommendations and services. 

Customers shopping online also are able to create requests for service or ask questions, initiating a conversation in real time (live chat, video or text message), sending an email directly to an associate if outside store hours, and requesting a virtual or in-store appointment.

“Salesfloor allows customers to shop online with store associates (in real time) or continue the conversation after they’ve left the store,” said Oscar Sachs, CEO/Co-founder of Salesfloor in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This gives associates the ability to continue developing one-to-one customer relationships that drive the business, especially through digital channels. Our appointment and event features are also more crucial than ever with the limits being imposed on number of people allowed in store because of the pandemic.”

The technology also has had a positive impact on the store associate experience, by giving them access to a new selling channel and the ability to develop better personalized connections with clients. “Associates love that they’re able to connect one-on-one with their customers outside of the physical boutique, especially during a time like today,” said Reeder. “Many have embraced the social media service this tool allows, which is driving great content and awareness online.”

Additionally, associates are able to see the impact they have on the overall business; the platform tracks online and in-store sales and gives them credit for sales regardless of where the customer chose to transact.

How the Platform Works

The Salesfloor mobile application platform provides retailers with analytics and reporting on sales, conversions and basket sizes, among other features. Combining retailer product data with customer profiles and transaction history, the technology creates intelligent tasks for associates so that they can recommend products to the right client at the right time. 

The AI-powered recommendations also help surface popular and trending items that associates should recommend to customers. Associates also can tag customers as VIPs and target the VIP customer segment to send them exclusive offers. Retailers can extract Salesfloor’s clienteling interaction data to create smarter business algorithms that lead to better targeting and customer segmentation by marketing, merchandising and store operations.

In-store, Salesfloor’s mPOS allows transactions to be completed from anywhere on the sales floor, including endless-aisle purchases with items from other stores or the web. On the app, associates also can view the BOPIS orders routed to their stores.

For example, an interaction that begins in-store might look like this:

  1. Associate interacts with customer in-store and views their profile information on the app.
  2. If the customer isn’t ready to purchase, the associate can follow up via email, SMS or send a tailored Customer Board based on the products they looked at in-store.
  3. Customer opens Customer Board and shops online with the associate. If they purchase online, the associate is credited.
  4. Through embedded Salesfloor features on the retailer’s site, customer chats live or starts a video call with the in-store associate, books an appointment or sends the associate an email.
  5. The associate receives a notification in the Salesfloor app that they have a new email, appointment or call/chat request. They can respond immediately.
  6. Customer transacts online and chooses to pick up the product in-store, where additional items are purchased.

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