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Tommy Bahama Launches New Online Outlet Experience

In the midst of a five-year plan for omnichannel growth, Tommy Bahama has made a series of investments focused on improving the customer experience, including launching an online outlet. 

Since 1992, Tommy Bahama has opened more than 130 stores across the U.S., as well as in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and Singapore. Additionally, the retailer has established a thriving e-Commerce business and is now venturing into the outlet space with a new digital platform powered by hybris technology.

While many “outlet” sites have the sole goal of moving excess inventory, Tommy Bahama also wanted to use the online destination to “reward existing customers with an off-price opportunity and acquire new customers,” according to Lisa Atwood, EVP of e-Commerce for Tommy Bahama. “Because we are a full-price lifestyle brand, it is very important that we are extremely careful in how we move off-price or excess inventory. The idea of the ‘outlet’ site is that it will only open a couple of times a year for purchasing product, for a very limited number of days. You have to be a member with an account to participate in any sale. During non-sale times you still can visit the site, sign in, as well as review your account and our FAQ section.”

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Following the outlet site’s first sale in January 2014, Tommy Bahama continued to “see an increase in sales year over year on our full-price site,” Atwood said. “The highest referrer of new visitors to our full-price site came from our outlet site. We continue to see this trend.”

Using the hybris Commerce Suite, Tommy Bahama allows customers to opt in to the outlet program and receive email promotions about upcoming sales and events. The retailer can open and close the site so inventory levels are continuously controlled.

The flash sale design of the new digital shopping destination can help drive impulse purchases among current and new customers. But with the goal of engaging prospects in mind, Tommy Bahama wanted to be conscientious about its marketing strategy for sale events.

“We need to be careful in how we manage the content of ads [and other marketing initiatives] because the site opens and closes,” Atwood explained. “We need to make sure that we are setting the guests’ expectations and not disappointing.”

Tommy Bahama is using the outlet site to test features of the hybris platform and “learn about the solution and capabilities in a smaller risk environment,” Atwood reported. Moving forward, hybris will collaborate with the retailer to re-purpose functionality and infrastructure on the full-price site, as well as enhance and redesign any features that need improvement. “We are now in the design phase for the full-price site with hopes of launching sometime mid-2015.”

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