Retail Pulse: rue21 Taps Into BOPIS With Mastek; Kohl’s Teams With Planet Fitness


Retailers are bringing omnichannel experiences to consumers by bridging the worlds of online and brick-and-mortar commerce through offerings such as buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS). Following that trend, Fast fashion apparel retailer rue21 recently announced it plans to bring the offering to more than 700 stores.

Through the experience, consumers can check the availability of a given item in the store closest to them, make a purchase online and pick up the product without paying shipping fees. rue21 Chief Analytics Officer Mark Chrystal said in the announcement, “Our customers are young, mobile and know what they want — whether that is fashion or flexibility. We developed this mobile-first offering with our customers in mind and they have loved the ease of buying and trying clothes across channels.”

To bring the technology for the service to fruition, the retailer is working with Mastek on the development and rollout of the offering. The project implementation included the integration of the company’s website, order management system (OMS), customer service tools and fulfillment provider via MuleSoft and Oracle Commerce. Chrystal said in the announcement, “Mastek was a true partner and has helped us deliver this new offering with the speed and innovation we've come to trust in our work with them over the past five years.”

According to data cited in the announcement, just above 55 percent of Top 500 retailers have a BOPIS offering even though there is “significantly higher demand for expanded omnichannel options from consumers.” At the same time, the company noted that its BOPIS feature “allows for enhanced online shopping, as well as the optimized in-store experience with personalized attention and real-time customer service.”

Beyond rue21, retailers such as Old Navy have brought BOPIS offerings to their customers. Over the holidays, the apparel merchant teamed up with Lyft to offer shoppers who wanted to use its click-and-collect service free rides to and from the store. In an announcement at the time, Lyft and Old Navy said, “The convenient shopping service enables customers to purchase items on and pick them up in stores in a flash.” The retailer offered promotions for customers who used the option by providing a free gift-wrapping set during some dates, while it provided a $5 shop card toward a future shopping trip at another time.

From Old Navy to rue21, then, BOPIS offerings are gaining traction with retailers looking to serve customers in an omnichannel world.

In Other Brick-And-Mortar News

Kohl’s plans to lease or sell retail space at 10 locations to Planet Fitness — and potentially more stores in the future. The gyms are said to have between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet of space. While the gym won’t share doors with Kohl’s, the companies are said to promote each other. As it stands, the retailer has been at work on the best use of its physical spaces such as right-sizing its retail footprint.

The news comes as the retailer revealed last year that Aldi would be its first partner to sublet space in downsized stores. GlobalData Retail Managing Director of Market Research Neil Saunders said at the time, “This kind of thinking … shows that Kohl’s understands the need to give customers reasons to visit stores and is not afraid to experiment to achieve this.”

In other news, Abercrombie & Fitch is looking to shutter as many as 40 brick-and-mortar stores by February 2020, with the majority of those stores located in the United States. The retailer closed 29 stores in fiscal 2018, with more possible since around 50 percent of its leases expire within the next few years. In a conference call, CEO Fran Horowitz told analysts that the retailer is “carefully evaluating closed stores when appropriate.”

Shares of the retailer’s stock soared about 20 percent on Wednesday (March 6) after the company beat Wall Street estimates for reported strong same-store sales growth and earnings. In the fourth quarter, the company earned $1.35 per share, which came out ahead of the projected $1.15 per share. In addition, the retailer reported same-store sales growth of 3 percent and beat the forecasts of 1.5 percent from Wall Street.

And Sam’s Club has developed and is testing an app that uses a camera for a mobile shopping experience. The technology, in turn, identifies products in consumers’ baskets instead of barcodes and is tied to the firm’s Dallas innovation lab. The concept is said to be tested beginning this spring through the Sam’s Club Now app.

The company has also reportedly filed a patent for the technology, which relies on computer vision and machine learning. Eddie Garcia, VP of the company’s product and member experience operations, said in a statement that “at its core, Sam’s Club Now will be a technology lab that doubles as a live, retail club. It’s where we will incubate, test and refine technologies to help define the future of retail.”

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.



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