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8 Dec

Saks’ Q3 Report: Transcending Industry Trends

While e-commerce industrywide experiences a diminishing rate of sales gains this 12 months, Saks.com is finding one other path.

“It’s slightly little bit of a unique story for Saks,” said Marc Metrick, chief executive officer of Saks, the e-commerce business for the Saks Fifth Avenue luxury brand.

“As you concentrate on it, we’re still seeing outsized growth online versus where we’re in stores. We’re still getting the massive growth online that we would like,” Metrick said in an interview.

In line with Metrick’s third-quarter letter to vendors, distributed Thursday, sales at Saks.com, on a gross merchandising value basis, rose 17 percent, on top of a “solid” third quarter of 2021. Results were driven by “strong traffic, customer retention and latest customer growth.”

In comparison with the pre-pandemic third quarter of 2019, Saks’ GMV sales within the last quarter increased 115 percent. (Saks’ gross merchandise value statistics include revenues generated through concessions and wholesale and likewise consider returns.)

“I feel good concerning the business,” Metrick said. “Actually times are different from last 12 months, but our business remains to be growing. It’s still acquiring customers. The expansion from pre-pandemic levels is very important. It’s an enormous deal. And the rise in customers shopping each channels is big for us,” he said, referring to Saks.com and the Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

He added that “2023 goes to be one other big 12 months for Saks.”

The recent results further the corporate’s belief that splitting the Saks Fifth Avenue store fleet and Saks.com into separate corporations, disclosed in March 2021, was the correct move. Insight Partners, a enterprise capital and personal equity firm, made a $500 million minority equity investment within the Saks e-commerce business, valuing it at $2 billion, thereby raising speculation that Hudson’s Bay Co., the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, could take Saks.com public. HBC doesn’t comment on that possibility.

A couple of other retailers, reminiscent of Macy’s Inc., have considered splitting up their dot.com and store business, but determined it wouldn’t be good for them and contradictory to furthering omni-channel capabilities and integrations.

The separate Saks stores and the e-commerce businesses established scores of agreements in such areas as merchandising, marketing and management to coordinate the operations.

“Given our exclusive partnership with SFA Stores, we remain confident within the seamless experience we’re in a position to deliver for our customers,” Metrick wrote in his letter. “Our strategy is working: the number of shoppers who shop each online and in store has grown by nearly 20 percent year-to-date in comparison with last 12 months, reinforcing the strength of our ecosystem.”

The investment by Insight has helped fuel the digital growth by supporting initiatives in marketing, which has been the largest beneficiary, in addition to site design and navigation, personalization and adding talent.

The investment would also support customer acquisition. “Due to our brand recognition and the quantity of traffic we get, our acquisition costs are literally low relatively in comparison with other pure plays,” Metrick noted. “We don’t need to spend as much money to generate traffic.”

Since getting the Insight investment and splitting up the dot-com and brick-and-mortar businesses, Saks.com reported that it has added two million customers, essentially doubling the variety of online customers.

Marc Metrick

Third-quarter sales at Saks Fifth Avenue stores did seem more reflective of what’s occurred industrywide — a major retail slowdown in October and into a part of November. On a GMV basis, the Saks stores saw a 7 percent decline within the third quarter, versus the identical period in 2021, when GMV rose by 30 percent, the corporate indicated. In comparison with pre-pandemic levels within the third quarter of 2019, GMV increased by 15 percent.

“The Saks Fifth Avenue stores performed well last 12 months relative to others. So this 12 months, you’re not going to see that big bounce,” Metrick said. Top-performing Saks locations last quarter were Latest York, Houston and Boca Raton.

Performance of the Fifth Avenue Clubs, the non-public styling and shopping service within the stores, accelerated within the third quarter of 2022, with a ten percent increase in GMV in comparison with the third quarter of 2021. The Saks brick-and-mortar store company known as SFA Stores.

Combined, GMV sales at Saks.com and Saks stores was flat to last 12 months but up 36 percent from the third quarter of 2019. Last 12 months much Christmas shopping happened earlier, in October, resulting from supply shortages, panicking consumers into considering they wouldn’t get the gifts they wanted in the event that they waited later within the season.

Regarding current inventory levels, Metrick told WWD, “We probably have slightly bit greater than we must always overall but it surely’s not big on my list of concerns.” He said it’s more of a problem in moderate and lower-priced retail sectors, fairly than luxury.

He said Saks has invested quite a bit in technology, and has more to do. The corporate recently began testing a Saks-developed, machine-learning algorithm inside personalized emails to make recommendations based on customers’ prior interactions across the Saks Fifth Avenue ecosystem. 

“Unlike third-party algorithms that typically depend on website-captured data, we’re in a position to factor significantly more signals into our recommendations — including in-store and post-purchase behaviors, like returns, exchanges and cancellations,” Metrick said. “To this point, these programs are driving improved engagement, promoting product discovery and driving more frequent purchases. These ‘algos’ are very, excellent. They’ve very unique. They’re very Saks-specific. And so they can really drive toward the correct recommendations to the buyer.”

The investment in personalization, he maintained, pays off. With it, orders per customer are up almost 15 percent and cross-category shopping is up almost 50 percent.

Asked how the vacation season was progressing, Metrick replied that from the day before Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, “We felt good about numbers.”

Traffic on the web site during that stretch was up 35 percent over last 12 months, to fifteen million visitors. While the demand was “solid,” Metrick said, “As expected, customers have been way more deliberate and disciplined of their gift shopping, in addition to self-purchasing as they gear as much as exit and travel in celebration of the vacations.”

Within the third quarter, site traffic increased by 39 percent, Saks reported, and latest customers grew by 14 percent, in comparison with the identical period in 2021. Total customers — latest and existing — who shopped at Saks.com within the third quarter of 2022 were up 28 percent in comparison with the third quarter of 2021.

Throughout the third quarter, designer ready-to-wear, designer bags, designer footwear, the boys’s business, statement pieces in outerwear, and customarily speaking, dressed-up styles for going out, sold well.

Looking ahead, Metrick said the corporate is feeling good about 2023. “I actually think it’s gonna be a much different environment than what we had in 2021 and in the primary a part of 2022. It’s about efficiency and being deliberate in the choice making.…There’s work to be done and there are exciting things which are going to be happening. So we’re just going to be focused, and really deliberate.”

Throughout the luxury sector, “There’s market share available and people are going to want luxury. We just need to be sure that we’re delivering the correct product the correct way.”

As we glance to 2023, there may very well be some volatile times ahead and, as such, we might be much more deliberate within the business decisions and investments required to progress our strategy. While separate corporations, each Saks and SFA Stores are well capitalized with liquidity available to support our business plans.”

In other highlights of the third quarter:

Saks.com and Saks stores featured the Prada holiday collection and entered the second 12 months of its emerging designer accelerator program, The Latest Wave, by featuring eight new-to-Saks brands: Claude Kameni, Keeyahri, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Nalebe, Sunni Sunni, Undra Celeste, Who Decides War and Zeynep Arcay. This system is geared to develop high-potential independent brands and amplifies diverse talent.

In November, a Saks Beauty Recycling in partnership with TerraCycle, launched so customers could turn over empty beauty containers through Saks.com and at Saks Fifth Avenue stores, to provide them a second life.

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