Chubbies Shorts automates its five-year-old loyalty program to track and scale the surprise gifts it sends to customers and keep them coming back.

Men’s casualwear e-retailer Chubbies Shorts says revenue from customers’ repeat purchases has jumped 70% since it automated its loyalty program a year ago, the company says.

Chubbies, which doesn’t disclose its revenue and declined to give order volume numbers, has used the automated system to cycle through 200 gifts aimed at rewarding customers’ first and subsequent purchases, up from the two gift options it offered for the past four years, says Taylor Clayton, the retailer’s senior manager of customer experience and fulfillment.

Since opening the business in 2011, Chubbies co-founders Rainer Castillo, Kyle Hency, Preston Rutherford and Tom Montgomery had helped put handwritten notes along with such trinkets as keychains, cup insulators and T-shirts as “thank you” gifts with customer orders, Clayton says.

“As we started to grow, the question was, ‘How do we scale this program?’” Clayton says.

Here’s how: Chubbies worked with e-commerce design firm Rocket Code for an undisclosed fee to set up a program that runs on top of software from Stitch Labs Inc. to continue putting notes and gifts in customers’ orders and automatically track who received what gifts and when, Clayton says. Chubbies took several weeks to build its program as a beta user of the software.

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The Stitch Labs application programming interface, or API, released Tuesday for general use, lets retailers customize their workflows to operate more efficiently. In Chubbies’ case, the API connects customer orders that come in through Chubbies’ e-commerce platform, Shopify, to the retailer’s third-party logistics provider. The API connects multiple pieces of software.

“It lets us test new gifts, change gifts when we want, add a certain gift in a customer’s first order, a different gift in the second order and keep updating the gifts,” Clayton says. “It keeps everything fresh and new and keeps customers engaged. The whole goal is to make customers feel welcome and included in the brand.”

Clayton says he and other employees save four hours a day thanks to the program, and that lets them  refocus a chunk of their workday to growing the business. The time savings comes from automating a process that used to require a logistics provider to rewrite rules about what gifts to include in orders or reorders, Clayton said. “We spent the development time on the front end and built a structure that lets us be flexible,” he says. “Now, we can change a third-order gift to a T-shirt from a tank top or add a gift we’ve discovered is getting good feedback on social media, and it takes 5-10 minutes to make the change.”

Retailers must be customers of Stitch Labs’ Enterprise or Enterprise Plus plan, starting at $2,000 a month, to access the API, says Jake Gasaway, Stitch’s vice president of platform.

The time to implement the software varies, ranging from one day for a customized shipping application to a month to integrate a business management system such as an enterprise resource planning, or ERP,  program, Gasaway says. Retailers access the software through a web browser. Stitch uses API management platform 3Scale to provide the service and hosts it in Google’s cloud.

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