June 15, 2011, 7:08 PM

IRCE 2011 Report: Deep data dives produce finds for women’s apparel retailer Chico’s FAS

The online retailer tries to fix the likelihood of a customer making a purchase.

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Diving deep into consumer data can yield surprising results, Jenn McClain, director of e-commerce marketing at women’s apparel retailer Chicos FAS Inc., said today at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in San Diego. For instance, knowing that a shopper has been browsing for luggage or home décor might be a better indicator that she will buy from Chico’s than if she has been poking around the web looking for shoes or accessories.

Those insights, which Chico’s gleans by way of content delivery network Akamai Technologies Inc.’s cooperative database of online shopping behavior from more than 500 e-commerce sites, helps the retailer use relevant messaging to target prospective shoppers.  The retailer is No. 129 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

“If you’re not constantly refilling your marketing funnel with high-quality prospects then eventually that funnel will drain,” said Gareth Ouellette, Akamai’s senior product manager, advertising decision solutions. “So it’s useful to bring new prospects into that funnel who haven’t visited your site before.”

Some retailers may be reluctant to share their consumer data with a cooperative database, said McClain. However, Chicos has found that the joint effort has helped it target new customers who might, if prompted via a targeted ad, buy from Chicos. “Those new customers have, the first time they buy from us, a lower average order value,” she said. “But once they’ve bought from us we can then drive a marketing campaign from that purchase to increase their order value on their next purchase.”

In the past six months Chicos’ traffic is up 24%, which McClain attributed, in part, to the Akamai co-op. Moreover, McClain said that every $1 the retailer spends with Akamai returns about $4.

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