April 5, 2012, 10:38 AM

Loehmann’s enters e-commerce

The retailer found a way to tie its inventory management system into its e-commerce software.

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In-store customers of national retail chain Loehmann’s have long known the brand for its large-scale closeout sales on high-end fashion brands that change weekly in what it calls The Back Room. So when the retailer launched its first e-commerce site in November, creating a flash sale portion of the site was a key component of its strategy.

It chose e-commerce platform provider ShopVisible LLC because the vendor offered technology that would tie the merchant’s existing, complex inventory management systems into order management and e-commerce software.

“We wanted to develop an online presence and support the growth of our brand,” says chief information officer Bill Thayer. “We needed to allow our customers a 360-degree view of Loehmann’s and support the ability for customers to buy online, return in store.”

Part of ShopVisible’s task was to integrate with SHCDirect, Loehmann’s customer relationship management, or CRM, provider to link the retailer’s loyalty program to Loehmanns.com. The company also integrated the retailer’s Ceridian Stored Value Systems into its payment technology to allow gift cards to be used both online and in-store.

Tying together existing technology, which included product information, images, pricing and inventory availability, with new e-commerce infrastructure was no small task because the retailer’s closeout inventory comes and goes from warehouses quickly and often, says ShopVisible founder Sean Cook.

“In the physical word, Loehmann’s invented the model of flash sales and urgent VIP discounts and changing inventory,” he says. “They were always set up to be able to do that from a physical standpoint and we are able to replicate that on their e-commerce site.”

The retailer also has incorporated social sharing tools on its product pages and is working on launching a mobile site with ShopVisible as well. Customer response to the new site has been very positive, Loehmann’s says, and the retailer beat its first month sales projections within the first two weeks of launching. The retailer did not provide sales numbers.

Ron Kelly, vice president of customer and pharmacy service, e-commerce for Walgreen Co. will discuss the benefits of linking store and web inventory at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in June in Chicago in a session entitled “Coordinating store and web inventory to snag more shopper dollars.” 

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