NRF 2021: Saks doubles down on its ‘luxury disrupted’ strategy
Marc Metrick, president and CEO of Saks, speaking yesterday during a session at the NRF Big Show’s virtual event, said the luxury department store retailer was fairly well-positioned to handle the novel coronavirus pandemic when it hit. He also said that many of the lessons learned over the months since have reinforced Saks’ strategy and the business pillars it is built on.
“The name of our strategy is ‘luxury disrupted’ because it’s about innovation and disruption,” said Mr. Metrick. “It’s about asking a question that you normally wouldn’t ask or thinking about something in a completely different way or stepping outside of your comfort zone, but innovation for me — and this is how I was raised at Saks, I started at Saks in 1995, you know — innovation starts with people. And it starts with the people in the organization and culture, and having an environment where they feel safe and comfortable with presenting ideas.”
Saks, like other retailers, has seen its sales negatively affected by the pandemic as it has been forced to close stores at times and seen reduced traffic when they reopened them. On balance, however, Mr. Metrick said sales at its physical locations “have been slightly negative” year-over-year since May but that the company has found a direct correlation between open stores and digital sales.
“Our digital business actually began to fire even more when our stores opened,” he said.
Employing a high touch approach continued to be important for Saks’ results whether stores were open or not, according to its CEO. The retailer’s personal shopper team really came through in a big way.
“We’ve put lots of technology in the hands of our associates through the peak of the pandemic,” he said. “Our stylists in our stores have generated nearly $150 million in revenue from technology, from being able to use it on websites to fulfill their customers needs before the stores were open, and then even after they were open and folks didn’t want to come in.”
Calling data “the great equalizer,” Mr. Metrick said Saks is seeking to combine the best of its high-touch approach with technology to connect its in-store and online experiences. “When they come into our store it’s about personalization, ease and — really important — don’t forget the fashion.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Saks as being on the right track for success, if the chain’s actions match its CEO’s words? What retailers, regardless of vertical, do you think are currently doing the most effective jobs connecting their in-store and online experiences?