As social commerce and influencer marketing continue to hold sway over brand strategy, Express has announced a new influencer program called Express Community Commerce that will enable a group of fashion enthusiasts to sell and earn commission on exclusive seasonal collections.
Express will coach a network of entrepreneurial fashion influencers, called Express Style Editors, who will promote Express collections among their followers. According to a press release, one of the brand’s goals is to help these fans turn their passion for style into a successful business or side hustle.
“Building upon the strong performance of our influencer marketing programs, along with our brand purpose which is to create confidence and inspire self-expression, Community Commerce will be a powerful and innovative way for customers to engage with Express,” said Tim Baxter, chief executive officer of Express.
Baxter told Glossy that the network of Style Editors will have the opportunity to create their own storefronts on a webpage that they can then promote on their social media accounts. The perks, he added, will be enabled via an exclusive app that they’ll have access to.
Though the influencer program is still in the pilot phase and isn’t launching nationwide until this fall, the retailer is looking to drive digital revenue and acquisition in anticipation of hitting $1 billion in ecommerce sales by 2024.
As many other retailers, Express was hit hard by the pandemic. The Express Community Commerce program could contribute toward a rebound. In Q4, its net sales plummeted by 29 percent while its Q4 comps declined by 28 percent.
In January 2020, Express said it would close 100 store locations by next year. While the company expects closures to reduce sales by $90 million, the decision will also save them $80 million per year over the next three years and in the long-term due to lower operating costs and the increasing share of revenue from ecommerce.
Late last year, Express reduced the corporate workforce at its Columbus, Ohio headquarters by 10 percent, which resulted in an estimated cost savings of $13 million.
According to the company’s first-quarter earnings, ecommerce transactions increased over 40 percent compared to 2020, with sales conversions up 19 percent and web traffic up 18 percent.
In turning fans into brand ambassadors, Express joins the likes of Sephora, Lululemon, Xbox and countless other brands trying to engage consumers, 80 percent of which say that social media directly impacts their purchasing decision and 35 percent who say they’re “very” or “extremely” likely to buy influencer-endorsed products online.