If the fastest-growing and most successful brands will become storeless in 2021, as IAB Executive Vice Chair Randall Rothenberg pointed out during a recent brand summit, then Pier 1 Imports should serve as a prime example of the transformation marketers can expect next year.
Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV) recently moved Pier 1 Imports from a brick-and-mortar retailer to an online-only store.
“We used learnings from Dressbarn to evaluate Pier 1,” said AJ Bhatia, CMO of Pier1 and Dressbarn, “Pier 1 is a legacy brand with lots of history, brand awareness, and tremendous data points across Facebook, Google, and SMS. We learned an online brand can survive without brick and mortar.”
Consumers have changed their shopping habits. Many want to buy online and have the products shipped to their homes or pick them up curbside.
During the pandemic, many retail stores have closed their dressing rooms to avoid having to clean them after each guest. They've become more flexible on returns, but with closed dressing rooms, consumers still need to take the items home to try them on.
Dressbarn relaunched its ecommerce site earlier this year. Sales rose by 165% in Q2, compared with the prior quarter, jumping an additional 50% in Q3 2020.
Pier 1’s website relaunched on September 1. In October the company saw a jump in sales by 169% in October compared with the prior month. Now in November, two months later, the site’s experiencing another 170% jump in sales, compared with September.
Pier 1, a 58-year-old brand, closed its brick-and-mortar locations earlier this year as part of a bankruptcy plan, but millions of people continued to purchase products from the retailer.
Based on the brand’s success, the investment firm in July acquired the rights to Pier 1's trademark name, intellectual property, data and various ecommerce-related assets for $31 million.
REV hired about 15 of Pier 1's buying, marketing and customer-support personnel. The 30-person Fort Worth team is now based in Dallas.
The relaunched online store offers hundreds of familiar SKUs in categories such
as holiday and seasonal, furniture, pillows, and dining and entertaining.
NP Digital, which has been working with Bhatia since July, helped the company move its website onto a new platform in August. The digital agency initially worked with Pier 1 to support the transition.
The biggest challenge was the timetable — less than a month — to get the strategy implemented, Bhatia said. The data and SEO transitions were much larger and more complex.
The transition meant building the team, learning about the business, making the transition, and relaunching the site.
“We had to reverse engineer the entire build, get products up, take over advertising accounts like Google and Bing, and transfer the data,” Bhatia said.
REV this year also acquired the brand assets and ecommerce businesses of Linens 'n Things, Franklin Mint and Modell's Sporting Goods.
In 2019, the investment firm purchased the brand assets and ecommerce business of Dressbarn from Ascena Retail Group. Since re-launching the brand's ecommerce site earlier this year, Dressbarn saw a 165% quarter-over-quarter sales increase in Q2, followed by an additional 50% jump in Q3.