Social media pays off for Chico’s
Women’s retailer knows customer sentiment, identifies influencers and more with social media analytics
Using social media analytics, retailers can identify and profile influential customers to determine what customers really want. And a number of successful retailers, including Chico's FAS, are seeing positive results. "Our success is rooted in a heritage of listening and responding to what our consumers want," Jessica Wells, Vice President of Social Marketing for Chico's FAS, told Retail TouchPoints. To help maintain that success, "we've implemented a social media analytics tool to better understand what's being said about our brands and where people are saying it. We then apply this intelligence to our core decision making."
Chico's FAS is a specialty retailer of private branded women's apparel marketed under the Chico's, White House|Black Market (WHBM) and Soma Intimates brands. The company operates more than 1,100 boutiques and 125 outlets, with each brand maintaining its own e-commerce website.
Using social media analytics tools from SAS, Chico's captures tweets in real time and identifies the ones significant to its brands based on sentiment and the influence of the Twitter author. Key tweets are routed to Chico's customer-facing personnel for response.
Overall, social media analytics allows the company to extend its customer insights beyond the boundaries of its physical stores, websites and call centers into the social channels where relevant apparel conversations are occurring.
Wells said Chico's engages its social media analytics tool with the following overarching goals:
"With these in-depth analytics, we immediately could gauge the public's response to this TV spot, which focused on WHBM's 'Work Kit' collection and featured well-known fashion model Coco Rocha," explained Wells.
"We immediately accessed snapshots of Web conversations on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other media outlets, and reported the responses directly back to key stakeholders within the brand, including marketing, merchandising and customer service. Because we could see where these conversations were taking place, media placement and public relations strategies could be modified," said Wells.
Training the tool
"Like most aspects of social media, analytics is not an exact science," Wells remarked. "Since these tools use linguistics, you have to learn how to understand text analytics and best interpret the findings, then take the appropriate response/action based on the relevant data.
"For example, for the Chico's brand, we had to work with SAS to train the tool to pull in conversations about Chico's, the specialty retail fashion brand, not the Mexican restaurant. We also had to train it to filter content containing the word 'chicos' when a post was referring to 'boys' in Spanish."
E-COMMERCE GROWTH: Volumes of social intelligence to mine
"With that growth come the volumes of intelligence to be mined from e-commerce," said Raj. "This includes not just listening to and recognizing trends in social media, but identifying sentiments such as why people are buying and how they feel about the shopping experience; how to reach them; what kinds of products, services and support they want; and much more."
Customers want a brand experience
For retailers, the focus of the online space no longer is about choice, price, convenience and reviews, Raj emphasized. "Those elements are still important, but now customers are asking for a relationship; they want a compelling experience added to the mix," he said. "Retailers must concentrate not just on selling products but offering real-time, personalized brand experiences across the social channels. The retailers that focus on these experiences will do very well."
Raj elaborated that while the information gleaned from social media analytics is valuable, it must connect to merchants’ other systems and data points to produce the most compelling retail experiences. “More often, we are seeing the retail CMO and CIO working closely together,” said Raj. “That’s where the real opportunity lies.”
* Reprinted from Retail TouchPoints, June 2012. Written by Lorna Pappas, Contributing Editor, Retail TouchPoints.
This story appears in the First Quarter 2013 issue of