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Saks takes the reins in holiday ecommerce via digital guide

November 7, 2012


Department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is getting a head start on holiday transactions through a digital gift guide that presents items by recipient, price or designer, which it is sharing via email, social media and its Web site.

There are quite a few ways in which users can browse the gift guide including items under $150 and products selected by Terron Schaefer, chief creative officer and Saks buyer on NBC's style competition show "Fashion Star.” In addition, Saks focused on gifts for him and her via a gift guide email campaign as well as its Cacharel flatware in a Facebook post.

“Since there is not a Saks in every mall, a digital gift guide is a great way to drive traffic online as well as build anticipation and awareness,” said Marsha Douglas, director of email and digital marketing services at Baesman Group Inc., Columbus, OH. “Holiday shopping is starting earlier every year, and holiday call-outs are in full swing by Nov. 1.

“Gift guides are specific collections that can inspire and drive response at the same time,” she said. “By including a digital gift guide, Saks is providing access to shoppers at any hour of the day.

“They can hop online and flip through a convenient collection that is easily navigated by price, gender and special occasion.”

Ms. Douglas is not affiliated with Saks, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Saks was not available for comment before press deadline.

Happy holidays

Saks’ holiday gift guide is presented on Saks’ ecommerce site.

From the homepage of, consumers can click to view it from one of the circulating promotional slides.

The main page of the holiday gift guide shows four slides that lead to specific products in the guide. These include Sparkle & Shine, For Him & Her, Handbags & Wallets and Best Sellers.

Gift guide 

The Sparkle & Shine slide, for example, links to products such as sequined apparel, gem stone rings and glitter shoes. Brands in this section include Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney and 3.1 Phillip Lim.

Below the header are additional sections of the guide including Best Sellers, For Her, Gift Trends, Gifts Under $150, Home & Gourmet and Terron’s Top Gifts. Each section is represented by one item that is contained within the category.

Gift guide 

Consumers can also shop via the menu in the left column of the page. These navigation options include Best Sellers, Categories, Shop by Price, Designers We Love and More Ways To Shop.

Designers We Love include Burberry, David Yurman, Gucci, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch.

“The use of both gift guides and wish lists online has become more common place over the last few years,” Ms. Douglas said. “To stay competitive, you want to make sure your gift guide is easy to navigate and includes fun and interactive call-outs where possible.

“Saks has done a good job of categorizing the gift guide to maximize user ability,” she said. “There is fun animation and use of zoom is extremely helpful when trying to view product detail.”

Channel appropriate

Saks is tailoring the promotion of its holiday gift guide on different digital platforms.

For instance, the gift guide email campaign sent Nov. 5 was titled, “Get gifting with our picks for her & him.”

The body of the email showed three gift items for women such as a pair of purple velvet Jimmy Choo flats. There were also three gift items for men such as a Salvatore Ferragamo wallet.

Depending on where recipients clicked in the email, they were linked to a page of women’s or men’s gift items.

Gift guide email 

Additionally, Saks pushed gold-detailed Cacharel flatware from its gift guide via a Facebook post Nov. 4.

Facebook post 

Saks is also using the hashtag #GiveSaks on Pinterest to link to the gift guide.

True to form, the retailer is also sending a holiday 2012 catalog via direct mail. There is a digital version on its ecommerce site as well.

Digital domination

Saks often takes an all-encompassing approach to its digital shopping guides.

For example, the retailer worked to get all eyes on its newly-revamped shoe department through email, digital, social and mobile efforts.

Saks sent out two email campaigns: one dedicated to its fall shoe collection's shoes and one on shoes to wear to Fashion Weeks in international cities.

The retailer also encouraged in-store foot traffic and digital transactions via its social channels and Web site with an Instagram contest, blog content and social imagery (see story).

In addition, Saks positioned beauty items in an online event that gave consumers three shopping guides based on personality and style.

The shopping guide showed three makeup and clothing looks. It led to the ecommerce site to purchase (see story).

“Digital channels, specifically mobile, are how retailers are connecting with their target audience,” Ms. Douglas said. “Everyone is busy, but by continuing to provide innovative ways to interact with customers, Saks is helping to drive this communication.

“I do believe that Saks will gain immediate transactions from [its holiday gift guide],” she said. “It is a smart and convenient way to drive shopping behavior.

“Once a customer has a good gifting experience, they will be more likely to come back for future special occasions.”

Final Take

Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York