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Saks Launches Off 5th E-commerce Site

The Web site, saksoff5th.com, is expected in its first year to be the biggest door of Off 5th’s 70-unit brick-and-mortar fleet.

The Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th outlet in Orlando.

Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th on Monday unveiled saksoff5th.com. Now that it’s here, the Web site is expected in its first year to be the biggest door of Off 5th’s 70-unit brick-and-mortar fleet.

This story first appeared in the October 1, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It will be a very important business,” said Robert Wallstrom, president of Off 5th. “This is a significant milestone for Saks Off 5th. We want it to be the Saks of the off-price world, a true extension of the brand.”

Off 5th stores are moving closer to city centers and opening in neighborhood centers, rather than outlet malls. “We continue to look at that, the idea of moving closer,” Wallstrom said, adding that Off 5th last year opened units in Aventura, Fla., North Chicago and Westbury, N.Y.

While most full-price retailers introduced online stores in the mid-Aughts, the discount pack was slower to embrace e-commerce. Neiman Marcus’ lastcall.com and Nordstrom’s norstromrack.com launched in 2010. Century 21’s site bowed in 2012 and TJ Maxx started selling products on its Web site last month.

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For a long time, brands discouraged off-price retailers from launching e-commerce sites because they didn’t want it known that they were selling to the channel. That mentality has changed, Wallstrom said. “Every vendor has its own strategy. At the end of the day, the off-price business is an important business. It’s a big part of the economy and a big part of retail.”

With discounts typically up to 55 percent off, saksoff5th.com will offer men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, footwear, handbags, accessories, jewelry, watches and beauty.

The retailer, which chooses trends from the runway, is translating its service ethos to the e-commerce site, making help from its customer care team available 24 hours a day.

Online shoppers have access to designer brands that may have limited distribution and be available only in select stores nationwide. Additionally, the e-commerce site offers Salon Z, a plus size women’s private label brand from Saks Fifth Avenue, not available in all stores.

The FashionFix flash sales feature migrated from saks.com to saksoff5th.com. FashionFix provides deals on non-outlet premier designer items through limited-time sales.

Mobile and tablet enhancements for shopping will be part of the evolution of the site interface, said Wallstrom. “We’ll continue to add to functionality of the site. We have a road map for the next six months of functionalities we’re building out,” he said. The ability to buy online and pick up in stores and look online and find in stores could be added.

The site has plenty of bells and whistles. Customers have more control over filter options and can hover over product images animated through multiple views of the item. There’s full-screen zoom on all products.