Chinese Laundry Walks The Omnichannel Walk With Celerant

In the omnichannel era, shoppers expect to always receive the products they want, at the right price and through the channel of their choosing. Having a 360-degree view of inventory levels across all channels is imperative and empowers retailers to truly walk the omnichannel walk. Currently, up to 66% of retailers agree with this sentiment, according to Retail Systems Research (RSR).

However, brands and retailers have struggled for years to capture a comprehensive view of inventory levels throughout the entire enterprise. For example, disparate inventory systems plagued shoe brand and retailer Chinese Laundry, forcing the company to cancel e-Commerce orders due to out-of-stock inventory. Potential sales were left on the table and customers were forced to go elsewhere to fulfill their footwear needs.

“We used to cancel more than 10% of our orders due to inventory issues,” noted Scott Cohn, VP of e-Commerce at Chinese Laundry. “You just can’t function that way as a business.”


Since switching to a single, integrated e-Commerce platform from Celerant, Chinese Laundry’s web team has been able acquire visibility into store inventory levels, and vice versa. Overall, “we can better manage inventory and do more business,” according to Cohn. Other key functions, such as price changes and coupons, run off the same database, which streamlines processes.

“The conversion rate and revenue increases we’ve been seeing since re-launch has been tremendous,” Cohn said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We have the ability to move in a much more agile way. Celerant provides an experience our brand needs to compete with others out there. It’s about the face the customer sees and the experience that we can deliver based on that.”

In order to bring e-Commerce into the store, Chinese Laundry is piloting tablets in a select number of boutiques. Although associates have had the ability to complete online orders in stores, “we feel the customer expectation is that they want an assisted service with an iPad,” Cohn said. Although the in-store technology aligns nicely with consumer behaviors, “the challenge becomes how do we incentivize the store to sell inventory that isn’t there. We want associates to get as much credit and want them to feel incentivized to sell all products — even if it’s not in their store.”

An Omnichannel State Of Mind

“Omnichannel” wasn’t always a prevalent term in Chinese Laundry’s vocabulary. Like most brands and retailers, e-Commerce was only a minor blip on its radar for a long time.

“At first, the web site was more of a marketing tool for the brand and a way to share information and assortment,” Cohn explained. “It was more focused on brand than revenue generation.”

But over the past few years, Chinese Laundry has experienced a significant evolution. Initially, the company thrived off its retail partnerships, but it only had a small number of boutiques and a web site to generate awareness. In order to keep pace with customer preferences and a highly competitive climate, Chinese Laundry has become a multi-faceted business that has presence, and enables commerce, across a multitude of channels.

“So much of the customer experience has changed,” Cohn said. “They used to just want to add things to their digital shopping cart and make a purchase, but now, their level of expectation is so much higher. Especially in the footwear industry, there are pretty amazing companies managing their customer experience through their web systems. That makes it great for customers, but also raises the standard for what everyone else in the industry needs to provide.”

Initially, Chinese Laundry operated on a homegrown, disconnected system that became far too cumbersome as the business grew, Cohn explained. “The leadership before me knew something needed to be done.”

The company eventually implemented Celerant POS and then transitioned over to designing and executing a new site with Magento. However, with not a lot of time or dollars focused on driving traffic and sales through the web site, Chinese Laundry struggled to obtain the IT resources needed to improve integrations and the overall e-Commerce experience.

“We made some superficial updates to make the site functional,” Cohn noted, “but it still didn’t have optimal navigation or shopping experience.”

After going through a full RFP process and weighing the features, functionalities and integrations, Chinese Laundry moved forward with Celerant and designed a site tailored to its wants, needs and business requirements.

“That’s why we’re succeeding now,” Cohn said. “It’s not just a cookie-cutter approach with templates. Our site was designed for us.”

With Celerant on its side, Chinese Laundry is making significant moves in expanding its omnichannel strategy. For one, the brand is building a responsive site that is optimized for all mobile devices.

“Since the iPhone 6 came out, mobile has been our number-one traffic source,” Cohn explained. “Our demographic is very mobile and Apple-centric, and interestingly, we’re seeing conversions on tablets. We know people are comparing prices, reading reviews and doing a lot of things on their phones.”

In conjunction with the responsive site rollout, Chines Laundry also is incorporating user-generated content into the e-Commerce experience to make online shopping more relevant and compelling.  


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