Chico’s Exec Discusses The Next Generation Of Personalization

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Retailers today are striving to create unique and memorable experiences across all channels. 

The combination of customer data, e-Commerce, mobile technology, social engagement and even interactive digital signage, can help create a compelling brand experience, and in turn, stronger relationships between a brand and its consumers.

Chico’s FAS is one retailer taking this customer-centric, omnichannel approach to marketing and commerce.


In the below Q&A, Robert Gras, VP of Technology – Stores and Applications, at Chico’s FAS, Inc., discusses how the retailer is using technology to differentiate itself in a competitive landscape.  

Gras leads teams in the areas of Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™ (omnichannel), Retail Store Systems, Innovation, CRM, and Application Development.  As a shared service, the Technology teams support all four brands in the Chico’s FAS portfolio: Chico’s, White House | Black Market, Soma Intimates, and Boston Proper. 

Throughout his career, Gras has led the development of custom applications, implementation of enterprise-wide software packages, and integration of software as a service (SaaS). His leadership of mobility solutions has included tablet-based sales force automation and mobile POS. Gras will speak at The Mobile Payments Conference, which will take place October 6-8 in Chicago.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What do you believe are the most pressing topics and trends on retailers’ minds today?

Gras: One of the biggest topics on the minds of every retailer, including Chico’s FAS, is the customer experience. For our company, achieving this goal begins with allowing customers to be in control by giving them the ability to engage with our brand anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

The second prerequisite to a positive customer experience is personalization. This entails aggregating all customer information so that store associates can provide highly personalized customer service.

RTP: What’s an example of this personalized service?

Gras: Let’s say, for example, that a woman is traveling out of town for work and needs to find an outfit for a business meeting. She begins the process in the morning by searching our web site to select a few potential outfits, which she then places in a virtual shopping cart. As she is traveling, she uses our mobile app to find our nearest store, adds a few notes for the store associate, indicating that she will stop by the store during her lunch hour to try on the outfits. When she arrives at the store, the associate has the outfits ready for her along with suggested accessories based on the customer’s profile. This scenario will become a reality as we continue to build and deploy Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™.

RTP: What is Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™?

Gras: Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™ is a platform developed by Chico’s FAS that combines various technologies and applications to enable the collaboration between customers and associates mentioned earlier. Some of the components currently in use or under development include iPad applications for retail associates, iOS and Android apps for customers, mobile POS, and interactive digital signage.

RTP: What do you believe is the key to success in retail today?

Gras: One of the keys to succeeding in today’s competitive retail environment is providing what we’ve coined at Chico’s FAS as MAPS (most amazing personal service). By combining the right customer-focused vision with the right business technologies and services, we continue to make this a reality for our customers.

The Mobile Payments Conference attracts an executive level audience from all parts of the mobile commerce ecosystem, which includes retailers and bankers. Fall 2014 marks the seventh Mobile Payments Conference. “Mobilizing Retail is the New Buzz” is the broad theme for the show, which also will feature the industry’s leading experts who will educate attendees about the latest mobile payments and mobile wallet solutions, services, standards and implementation strategies. 

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