Top 500 apparel retailers roll out reserve online, pick up in store programs

May 22, 2015 10:00 AM

One major American mall apparel retailer has rolled out a program that allows customers to put items on hold through its website and pick those items up in store within as little as two hours, and another plans to follow suit with a similar program.

Multichannel women’s apparel and accessories retailer The Limited expanded its Reserve Online, Ready In-Store program to include all stores after testing it at retail locations in Columbus, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. Shoppers pay for items when they pick them up in store and are not obligated to buy the items they reserve online.

Online sales for The Limited, No. 231 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, grew 214% over the past five years, to $110 million in 2014 from $35 million in 2010. data shows the vast majority of Limited shoppers (62.39%) are women, with 57% of those shoppers having an annual household income of $30,001-$100,000.

"This program creates an easier shopping experience for our clients to browse and shop the latest styles whenever and wherever they please, before making a trip to their local store," said Diane Ellis, CEO of The Limited.

The Limited is not alone in seeing that there could be a market for a program like this.

Executives with American Eagle Outfitters (No. 75 in the Top 500 Guide) told analysts on the retailer’s Q1 earnings call that they plan to roll out a similar program, hinting that it could happen during the second half of this year, though they didn’t specify a timeline or how many stores would offer it.

Chief financial officer Mary Boland said the retailer wants to expand its e-commerce offerings following the success of other similar programs. “We are seeing clear benefits from our Buy Online Ship from Store capability, which is driving incremental sales, higher customer satisfaction and reduced markdowns,” she told analysts, according to a transcript of the call obtained from Seeking Alpha.

“We do believe that there (are) opportunities to continue to drive the customers to malls, and a large part of that will come down to our digital strategy and our potential to use the omnichannel network to fulfill both customer demand plus also establish our marketing cadence that is appropriate,” added Simon Nankervis, executive vice president of global commercial business.

American Eagle and The Limited are not the first mall-based apparel retailers to try such a program. Gap Inc. (No. 18 in the  Top 500 Guide) rolled out a reserve-in-store offering in June 2013, while Sears Holdings Corp. (No. 5) unveiled a similar program in November called Reserve It that gives shoppers a 48-hour window in which to buy apparel they  reserve online.




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