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City Chic operated stand-alone ecommerce sites in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. They later acquired two niche fashion ecommerce brands, and decided to bring all five sites within one ecommerce platform. For Guidance to make it work, the project would have to solve for both form and function, concepts critical to fashion and ecommerce.
City Chic was founded as a single plus size fashion boutique in Sydney, Australia in 1999. Today, their reach is global, leading a world of curves with more than 200 locations in addition to their ecommerce presence. Their female audience is conscious of fashion trends in general and a garment's fit for them individually. They want to feel bold, sexy, and unapologetically glamorous. Rebranded City Chic Collective in 2018, they celebrate their audience with a high-end presentation and styles that "conceal and reveal in all the right places."
City Chic and Guidance had partnered on fashionable projects for nearly a decade before City Chic approached Guidance with its most ambitious plan to date. Many style seasons ago, City Chic was unknown in the United States. They had turned to Guidance to help them grow beyond the brand they'd successfully established for themselves in Australia and New Zealand.
Guidance launched City Chic's US ecommerce site on the Magento 1 platform and the brand has grown exponentially in the intervening years. From becoming the first plus size fashion line at L'Oreal Fashion Week, to launching boutiques within select Macy's and Nordstrom locations, City Chic continues to take the fashion industry by storm. The latest project for which they'd engage Guidance's services would transform nearly every aspect of their ecommerce presence.
The first step in City Chic's digital makeover was a creative audit, leading to a visual refresh. This was done with an eye to the fact that a full ecommerce migration or upgrade would follow not long afterward. After a decade of running on Magento 1, Guidance discovered that the design had held up well over time, and the most impactful changes would be more about modernization.
City Chic has a clear vision in mind for how they present the brand. Simple, clean, modern, and sophisticated are their watchwords, and they collaborated closely with Guidance to revamp elements of the photography, color palettes, product detail page layouts, and more. The new City Chic look confidently delivers that experience, while also accounting for the evolution of mobile ecommerce, and primes them for a new decade of success.
“Half-year results just announced! Guidance is a significant reason for this – without your help and professionalism, City Chic's position would be nowhere as positive. Thank you!”
One of the improvements to the site, blending design and technology, focused on the product listing pages (PLPs). Rather than requiring a customer to click through to a product detail page (PDP) to see different garment features, Guidance incorporates options for browsing those features directly on the PLP. For example, customers can see color options for an item with an overlay of swatches. Additionally, a multi-view feature lets customers scroll through a combination of lightbox and lifestyle photos for a given product..
City Chic wanted to bring a curated, magazine-style feel to their homepage. To do this, Guidance created an option that allows City Chic to add product photos in a variety of sizes. Another aspect of the visual refresh includes a "Rock the Style" (similar to “Shop the Look”) concept, centered on the depiction of a model in a hero image, surrounded by smaller lightbox product images for each of the model's clothing pieces and accessories. Customers could easily add many or all of those items directly to their shopping bag.
Meanwhile, City Chic had acquired two other brands serving the plus size market: Hips & Curves, which focuses on lingerie, and Avenue, which focuses on business and casual attire. City Chic itself offers products in these categories, but also sells formal and occasion wear to its audience. Bringing Hips & Curves and Avenue into the City Chic family of brands created opportunities to cross-pollinate their category offerings across the brands.
The visual refresh performed for City Chic would also form the basis of redesigns for Hips & Curves and Avenue, creating a cohesive brand presentation. That put the finishing touches on how the sites would be seen in public, but behind the curtain, there were other complexities to address.
Hips & Curves was running their ecommerce store on Magento CE, and Avenue was running theirs on SFCC. Naturally, it made sense to migrate the two brands to the same ecommerce platform as City Chic. But as noted earlier, City Chic itself had been on the same platform for many years, Magento 1.
To make things even more interesting, the Australian and New Zealand instances of City Chic's ecommerce presence were running on SAP Hybris. That's five ecommerce sites in total, running on four different ecommerce platforms. So City Chic and Guidance embarked upon a once-in-a-decade, multi-site, multi-national, multi-stage migration, to bring all of these brands within one cohesive framework.
Guidance performed a platform analysis to determine which ecommerce provider would best address the future success of City Chic and its family of brands. This meant taking into consideration the ease with which new sites could be added, and how readily the content for those sites could be managed. Functionality and scalability were also important factors, as was the need to handle a variety of currencies, coordinate with multiple fulfillment centers, and integrate with an array of dropship vendors.
Ultimately, Magento 2 was selected as the migration and upgrade platform of choice. Guidance used the uRapidflow Magento extension to migrate the sites and built a few additional custom data importers for various pieces of data not accounted for in the standard setup. Over 2 million customer records across the five sites were migrated during the project. As a result, the complete portfolio of brands makes City Chic one of the largest clients in the Magento ecosystem.
One of the most critical business requirements for the City Chic upgrade from Magento 1 to Magento 2 revolved around the checkout process. Years earlier in Guidance's relationship with City Chic, Guidance had created a customized checkout process for City Chic within Magento 1. This setup placed all the elements of the checkout process onto a single page, which significantly increased their conversion rates. Re-creating that one-page checkout experience in Magento 2 for City Chic was a must.
A simplified checkout process is impressive, but a simplified returns process is even more remarkable. Because City Chic is so committed to ensuring that their customers love their shopping experience, they wanted to make the occasionally inevitable product return process as user-friendly as possible. It’s quite literally as easy as 1-2-3, as it’s a three-step process conducted on one webpage from the customer’s standpoint. Programmatically, that means order lookups, item selections, and return paperwork are all integrated within a single-page experience.
City Chic products aren't sold only on their own ecommerce sites or in brick and mortar locations. They're also sold on the ecommerce sites of retailers such as Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Nordstrom. To accommodate these additional outlets, City Chic and their family of brands needed an EDI solution. Guidance created an integration for City Chic within Magento 2 using SPS Commerce, which allows for simple onboarding of new dropship vendors and easy management of existing EDI partners.
One of the Guidance enhancements simplifies the OOTB Magento reporting processes and creates custom reports within Magento for City Chic. Guidance also extended Magento's API features for City Chic, which allows their ERP to manage more inside the platform. Widgets were created to help City Chic manage and schedule updates to their content and promotions. Code optimizations speed up the sites' ability to handle the high volume of customers, orders, and SKUs. Guidance even deployed 2 Varnish servers, operating in different global regions, so that customers in Australia and New Zealand would see most content served from a closer resource, to improve page load speed.
Adding Hips & Curves and Avenue to their brand portfolio was just the beginning for City Chic. Their goal is to add more niche ecommerce sites to their business, and this wide-ranging collaboration never lost sight of that bigger picture. It was immediately about migrating and updating the five current ecommerce sites, to be sure, but most importantly, it was about creating a foundational framework for their future. Success never goes out of style, after all. And with the completion of this most ambitious project, the partnership between City Chic and Guidance is stronger than ever.
“For the first time ever City Chic took over a million dollars online in sales transactions in a day. This is mammoth!”
Guidance, in a series of platform migrations and upgrades, brought five different ecommerce sites under the umbrella of a single Magento instance for City Chic.
These sites serve customers on four continents, and the upgrades were completed in tandem with a design refresh, expanded integration for dropship vendors, and easy site administration.
Increase in Revenue
Increase in Conversion
Increase in AOV
W3 Silver Website Features:
Visual Appeal - Experience for Website
City Chic, a long-standing Guidance client, engaged the agency for its most ambitious project to date. After a series of business acquisitions, City Chic needed to migrate four ecommerce sites to Magento and upgrade their own site to Magento 2.
Previously, Guidance customized a one-page checkout process in Magento 1 to improve their conversions. This needed to be re-created for Magento 2 and deployed across all five ecommerce sites, along with a visual refresh that would deliver a clean and coordinated brand presentation across the portfolio.
The upgraded, cohesive framework allows City Chic to seamlessly administer all their sites, which serve customers on four continents, in multiple currencies. They can also add new dropship vendors and niche ecommerce sites to their portfolio with ease.