Apparel brand Vince has invested in revamping its ecommerce website to manage its online and offline inventory, says Heather Wilberger, chief information officer.
“Our biggest challenge is absolutely effective inventory utilization,” Wilberger says.
Vince turned to NewStore, a cloud omnichannel software vendor. Over approximately the last 18 months, the retailer experienced a 7% increase in buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) orders.
Before using the software, “we weren’t able to track an increase for BOPIS at all,” Wilberger says. NewStore connects directly via API with Vince’s ecommerce software from Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Software allows Vince to fulfill online orders in store
Vince uses store fulfillment across its 66 physical locations for online orders. Vince’s average order value for ecommerce is 32% higher compared with in-store AOV.
On average, 40% of the retailer’s total orders ship from these locations. However, during busy periods, stores fulfill fewer orders, Wilberger says. This is particularly true during the holiday season spanning from November through December. In Q4 2022, Vince’s fulfillment rate dropped to 23%, Wilberger says.
“Foot traffic is much higher during these times, so associates do not have the bandwidth to pick, pack and ship orders from other [store] locations,” Wilberger says. “Their top priority is helping customers in store, which causes some store managers to turn off capability for a short period of time.”
Toggling in-store order fulfillment on and off
Fulfilling online in store is helpful, but it is important to pull back when necessary. NewStore’s software allows the retailer to turn in-store fulfillment options on and off. This avoids tying up staff to fulfill orders from store during high demand periods, she says.
“We’ve pulled those levers during times of high demand, and it’s been received really well among our teams,” Wilberger says.
The holidays are a good example of “pulling the lever” on and off to keep staff free where needed, Wilberger says.
“We really have to keep our eyes on those levers to understand how we’re fulfilling orders,” Wilberger says. “We want to optimize sales in any way we can that also benefits the customer. The customers wants what they want. We want them to get it as soon as they can. Having that ability to toggle back and forth where our folks can fulfill orders from the store has been absolutely fantastic.”
An endless aisle shopping experience in store
Vince can also offer customers an endless aisle experience, Wilberger says. A shopper searching for a popular item in store might be open to other colors or sizes — even if those colors are not available in stores. Endless aisle allows sales associates to suggest options available at other store locations or distribution centers. They can then send those items directly to the customer, Wilberger says.
Vince knows certain classic styles are the brand’s cornerstone, Wilberger says, adding that’s why it’s important to plan ahead. Vince stocks up on popular SKUs to ensure those items are available during surges in demand, she says.
During the winter months, Vince customers buy sweaters, Wilberger says. Knit and cashmere sweaters account for 20%-25% of Vince’s direct-to-consumer revenue, she says.
“We can understand that perhaps a store in the Los Angeles area has the cashmere funnel neck sweater in the color the shopper wanted,” she says. “We can ship it out of that store, which reduces some of our shipping costs because it’s a localized shipping event occurring.”
“It gives us an opportunity to sell to the customer or not lose the sale,” Wilberger says. “We can overnight it and have that plush funnel cashmere at the consumer’s door the next day.”
These abilities have been critical to Vince as the economy bends and turns, she says.
“We rise to what the consumer demand looks like for our products,” Wilberger says. “And warehouse space is expensive.”
Vince is No. 856 in the Top 1000. The database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest online retailers by web sales.
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