Saks Fifth Avenue has overhauled its web site in a bid to capture greater digital sales, and make the journey online faster and easier with different “pathways” to the purchase.
By being re-platformed with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, saks.com can capture more data on users, leading to messaging that furthers personalization.
Men’s wear, which executives have been touting for some time as a best-selling category, is propped up with its own homepage for the first time, which leads to a designated men’s section. So if Saks has you identified in its database as a men’s wear shopper, when you log onto saks.com, the men’s homepage pops up. If you’re a women’s shopper, the women’s home page pops up. And if Saks has no information on you, the women’s homepage pops up since most who venture onto saks.com are shopping for women’s wear.
“We really redesigned the site for fashion, personalization and ease,” said Saks Fifth Avenue chief marketing officer Emily Essner, who is responsible for marketing and the digital business.
It’s important that Saks enhances its web site to offset, as much as it can, declines in brick-and-mortar stores due to the pandemic. Saks Fifth Avenue is highly dependent on such tony flagships as the ones it has in Manhattan, Beverly Hills and Bal Harbour, Fla., among other units in its fleet, which has been hurt this year by temporary closures, tourism declines, and people being reluctant to shop indoors, fearful of contracting the coronavirus.
Some lost store sales have been captured online, though Saks executives decline to specify its digital gains this year beyond characterizing them as a “double digit” increase, driven mostly by men’s wear, as well as women’s shoes, handbags, jewelry and fragrances.
They also don’t reveal how much of the retailer’s total annual volume is generated online, noting that Saks is part of the Hudson’s Bay Co. which went private earlier this year and no longer publicly discloses financial results.
“It’s very much on par with competitors,” said Essner, when asked what percentage of Saks Fifth Avenue’s total volume is generated online. At Neiman Marcus, Saks’ most direct competitor, digital represents about one third of the overall sales volume.
The relaunch of saks.com has been phased in over the last several weeks whereby over time, an increasing number of shoppers would be logging onto the revamped saks.com, and a diminishing number would be accessing the old version. As of last week, everybody would be accessing the revamped saks.com.
“The project has been underway since before the pandemic,” said Essner. “This marks Saks’ first comprehensive web site re-design in about five years.”
In an overview of the changes to saks.com, Kristin Maa, senior vice president, digital, said there’s an “updated look and feel” with more editorialized fashion imagery on the site. She also said the site gives Saks more data points on customers, such as what they’ve returned or added to their carts, to get a clearer read on their shopping behaviors, both online and in-store, and better tailor messages and recommendations to them.
Among other features on the luxury site, Maa cited:
• A prominent “New Arrivals” section, which every week features new products. “It’s a devoted product array of new arrivals. Before, they would be more dispersed. By having one destination for new arrivals, it’s easier for customers to shop the newest, freshest merchandise. We get close to 1,000 new products a week for women, 400 or so for men.”
• An expanded “Edit” section, hosting shoppable editorial content including seasonal trend stories and influencer-curated product arrays. “It has a new magazine-style landing page hosting articles featuring new brands, understanding trends and how to wear them, Q&As with designers, gift guides, and guest-edited selections. All of the content refreshes on a weekly basis. Previously, the edit was a curation of trends but we couldn’t really do the storytelling,” said Maa.
• “Designer spotlight” sections for men’s and women’s calling out new and emerging brands, and “pillar” brands such as Akris and Roger Vivier currently spotlighted in the women’s section. The men’s version currently spotlights Amiri.
• An upgraded “wish list” that indicates more details on selected products as well as whether they’re in stock, if inventory is limited, or if a product is eligible for a promotion. When reviewing their shopping bag before checkout, a reminder provided to the customer of what’s still in their wish list pops up.
• Maa also pointed out that there are fewer clicks in “the path to the purchase,” and that within each product page, there are “complete the look” recommendations, displaying two or three items, such as shoes and handbags, to go with a dress or a skirt.
“Saks.com has a more seamless shopping experience through enhanced core functionality, including site stability,” said Maa, meaning saks.com is less likely to crash, can handle higher volumes of traffic, and it’s less likely shoppers will encounter glitches during their shopping journeys. In fiscal 2019, there were about 180 million visits to the site.
There is also enhanced search functionality, so shoppers can view recent searches, the most popular searches, and bestsellers, providing an experience similar to Google Search. So if a consumer types in Gucci shoes, for example, the site would instantly display five Gucci styles as a preview before receiving the full search results.
Saks.com also has new filtering options. For example, if a shopper wants to buy a dress and needs to get it fast for an event that evening, she can view all the dresses online that can be picked up the same day in the Saks store nearest them, or available for same-day delivery in New York City. The site has the ability to filter out pre-orders or list only items available for pre-order.
“We have a lot of other filters, by size, color, necklines, sleeve length, material, as well as items that can be shipped immediately,” said Maa.
Shoppers also have the option to view styles either worn on a model or off the model. “Typically, when it’s off the model you can see the item more closely,” said Maa.
Like many other fashion web sites, models in product shots (not those on the editorial pages) are cropped so they’re headless. That’s to put the focus on the fashion.
As Essner sees it, “I really do think the site sets the standard for luxury e-commerce, particularly in the way it engages in a personalized, easy way, and is very much centered on fashion.”