While Express’s overall sales fell 11% in Q4, it expects initiatives like ship from store and in-store pickup will bolster its bottom line.

E-commerce accounted for roughly 25% of Express Inc.’s total sales in the fiscal fourth quarter and nearly 19% of its sales in fiscal 2016, and the multichannel retailer believes that stores and omnichannel initiatives that link its online and offline presences will play key roles in its future success.

“We still believe in stores, the importance of stores and the way in which stores can bring the brand to life in a physical nature,” said CEO David Kornberg last week in a conference call with analysts according to Seeking Alpha. “As we go later into the year, we will be delivering our omnichannel initiatives, which is obviously going to rely on stores and our ability to upsell in stores as customers are increasingly seeing a line between e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar.”

Last year, the retailer replaced a 25-year-old legacy information technology system with new order management, retail management and enterprise resource planning systems, which it expects will help maximize its inventory productivity via omnichannel initiatives such as stores fulfilling online orders, which it introduced in the second quarter, and offering shoppers the ability to pick up online orders in stores, which it plans to test later this year.

The retailer expects to cut back on the inventory it keeps in its stores by offering 15% or 16% fewer style choices than it offered last year. At the same time, it will offer a wider assortment online. “Online we continue to increase our choice count because we can,” he said. “And what we have seen with that is it’s fueling accelerated growth in the online area of our business.”

Express also expects to grow its online sales by improving its mobile app and website.

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“As the shift towards e-commerce rapidly accelerates, we continue to position ourselves to capitalize on this evolution in consumer behavior,” Kornberg said.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 28, Express reported:

  • E-commerce sales rose 8.8% to $170.1 million from $156.3 million.
  • Total sales fell 11.3% to $678.8 million from $765.6 million.
  • Comparable-store sales, including e-commerce, fell 13%.
  • Net income was $22.8 million, down 59.4% from $56.1 million.
  • E-commerce represented 25.1% of total sales in the fourth quarter this year versus 20.4% last year.

For the full fiscal year, Express reported:

  • E-commerce sales rose 11.0% to $406.5 million from $366.2 million.
  • Total sales fell 6.7% to $2.193 billion from $2.350 billion.
  • Net income was $57.4 million, fell 50.7% from $116.5 million.
  • E-commerce represented 18.5% of total sales versus 15.6% last year.
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