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Saks Fifth Avenue invests in digital buying and merchandising processes

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Jun 19, 2020

Department stores have been some of the worst hit retailers during the pandemic crisis, with many not having the e-commerce prowess to match their brick and mortar cachet and success. Barneys and Neiman Marcus are but two examples.

For many luxury department stores technology became a lesser priority when focus was needed on physical storefronts and drawing customers and visitors. This often came at the expense of doing business in more innovative ways, particularly B2B. But as the pandemic continues to keep much of the workforce at home, including buying teams and those responsible for merchandising a store’s products, it has become increasingly apparent that it is no longer feasible to send buyers globetrotting for often weeks on end to source collections when much can be accomplished with existing technologies.

Saks behind the scenes upgrade

Saks Fifth Avenue has steadily been pushing its digital presence behind the scenes, including streamlining its wholesale business in a new partnership with NuOrder, and upgrading its buying and merchandising processes.

“Saks Fifth Avenue is known for delivering an effortless and individualized customer experience. As part of this, we strive to offer an assortment that is new, unexpected, and exclusive,” said Tracy Margolies, chief merchant at Saks Fifth Avenue. “To maintain our leadership in luxury retail, we have been evolving our merchandise strategy to continually deliver the best edit for our customers, when and where they want it. While these efforts have been underway for some time, the current environment has given us the opportunity to accelerate our plans. Our adoption of NuOrder’s data-driven platform is an important step in our strategy, enabling us to better collaborate with our vendor partners, drive inventory efficiency, and ensure merchandise effectiveness across all touchpoints.”

The pilot project was launched last January, but already has 150 of the store’s suppliers on its new platform, including Balenciaga, Theory, Rag & Bone, Burberry and Balmain. By the end of the year Saks expects most of the men’s, women’s and children’s fashion brands will be available on its digital platform for buying and merchandising.

The collaboration with NuOrder allows Saks to reduce the travel times and costs necessary to visit the showrooms, but it will not be a substitute tout court for purchases ‘in the old way’, based on ‘touching’ the collections with your hand and on the have personal relationships.

“NuOrder’s progressive technology is transforming the retail industry by helping retailers and brands collaborate and assort in a data-driven fashion,” added Olivia Skuza, co-founder and co-CEO at NuOrder. “Now more than ever, the industry needs to evolve how it’s doing business and Saks is at the forefront of driving innovative change at a time the industry needs it the most. By adopting technology to visualize the product assortment right down to the store level, it will help push Saks and their vendor partners forward.”

In addition to Saks, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom have also chosen to implement the NuOrder platform, while Neiman Marcus is using competitor platform Joor.

Want to become a member of FashionUnited's B2B Marketplace? Buyers and brands can register via fashionunited.com/marketplace.

Image via Saks Fifth Avenue