American clothing company The Limited is an iconic brand that goes back 50 years. It spearheaded mall-based specialty retailing and today operates approximately 250 stores and employs 5,000 associates.
But with customers increasingly going online to buy, The Limited decided to increase the investment in its e-commerce efforts.
Jenn McClain, The Limited’s vice president of e-commerce, came on board in June 2012 from Florida-based women’s apparel retailer Chico’s FAS, where she had served as vice president of e-commerce marketing. She left Chico’s for the broader, more encompassing e-commerce role at The Limited – and she has enjoyed watching the business grow.
“I am fortunate to have a fabulous team and to have been able to grow the team in key areas,” McClain says. “Two weeks after I joined the company, we went live on a new platform and integrated several new partners.”
The decision to bring in-house The Limited’s previously outsourced e-commerce had been made and planned before McClain got there, but it was up to the small team to pull it off. “We did it,” she says.
The Limited chose to work with Boston-based Demandware, which provides e-commerce software technology for online retailers around the world. Demandware’s products include merchandising and catalog management tools that allow merchants to configure their own sites per their particular needs without additional development. Demandware’s goal is to take care of the technology part of online retail so retailers can focus on their core competencies.
“Demandware is a scalable solution and reliable,” McClain says. “It’s a very flexible platform for us to do what we want and can easily integrate with other partners.”
Demandware powers more than 200 retailers across more than 800 sites, and it has become a go-to e-commerce services provider for apparel retailers in particular. Its clients include Adidas, Barneys New York, Brooks Brothers, Cole Haan, Columbia, Crocs, Elie Tahari, Kate Spade, Lacoste, Lands’ End, Nine West, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tory Burch and UGG. Other types of retailers use Demandware as well, including Godiva, Jo-Ann, Ethan Allen, Pier 1 Imports and Panasonic.
To secure the site, The Limited turned to another heavy hitter: CyberSource. Now owned by Visa, this California-based pioneer in e-commerce credit card payment system management enables customers to process online payments and manage online fraud issues. Most importantly, it simplifies online payment security so it doesn’t detract from the shopping experience. Nearly half-a-million companies worldwide use CyberSource, including half of the companies on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. CyberSource works in conjunction with Demandware’s tools.
“Making this enhancement was something we very much needed to do because we need to keep up with our growth and different types of payments out there,” McClain says.
Ramping up e-commerce is central to growing The Limited’s business. And the e-commerce team did more than just build on a new platform – they’ve added better product imagery, improved navigation and streamlined the end-to-end shopping experience.
“We’re improving the overall e-commerce experience, especially optimizing and fine-tuning the mobile experience,” McClain says. “We want to continue to maintain our strong growth, so we are focusing on driving qualified traffic and providing a best-in-class shopping experience.”
The Limited relaunched the mobile site this past October and is launching a cosmetic redesign of its entire online presence in July. By early fall, there will be more editorial content about the brand and more discussion opportunities for customers on the site.
“Our team is in lockstep with our brand marketing and what our stores do in terms of brand imagery,” McClain says. “We all use the same creative, so it will be a seamless brand experience for the shopper.”
The Limited provides the modern sophisticated professional with fashion that empowers her personal style. The store offers clothes for a range of occasions: suits and business separates, event dresses and casual sportswear.
Most recently, The Limited made history when it announced the first-ever design collaboration between a national retailer, a top-rated network TV show, its costume designer and leading lady. Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actress Kerry Washington and costume designer Lyn Paolo, in partnership with Elliot Staples, head of design from The Limited, have designed a new fashion line exclusively for The Limited inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ top-rated ABC drama, Scandal.
In 2007, the ownership of the flagship Limited chain was transferred to private equity firm Sun Capital, and the buyout experts set about improving the business model. Sun Capital invests in companies that are in the top-two market positions in their industry and have long-term competitive advantages but would benefit from the firm’s operating experience.