Saks Fifth Avenue wants its employees to spend more time on their phones. Last month, the department store added a mobile style advisor feature to its app, through which users can opt in to receive messages from an employee-turned-style advisor who’s selected for them based on their answers to a quiz. But will the retailer execute the new element well enough to bring shoppers back?
According to the company, the mobile app is its highest-trafficked channel, even though stores are still the highest-conversion channel. The new feature currently has 170 style advisors on duty (both during working hours and after-work hours). If it becomes widely used, it could act as an incentive for shoppers to visit not only Saks’ app, but its stores as well—especially since the retailer reports that 35% of app users actually complete their purchases in-store.
However, the brand could stand to learn from some of its digital mistakes of the past. For example, Saks posted only a few hundred tweets and replies each quarter during the study period for Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Department Stores, even though Twitter is a popular customer service channel for retailers. In order to make Saks’ newest feature a success, seamless communication between stylists and shoppers must be ensured.
Saks has been making efforts to drive customers to stores, giving beauty counters a makeover and highlighting store events on its site. The retailer even reminds browsers about store services through persistent live chat pop-ups.
But the new app feature marks the first time that Saks has used employees to connect digital to the in-store experience. The tactic has been tested by some of its peers already, such as Genius brand Macy’s, which turned its employees into a group of influencers called Macy’s Style Crew. While the jury is still out on Macy’s, digital pure-play ASOS found success with a similar strategy. Its ASOS Insiders Instagram account, which consists of influencer content, generates more engagement than the main brand handle, according to Gartner L2’s report on department stores.
If Saks wants to ensure success for its new digital feature, the retailer might take a few pages from its peers’ playbooks. In addition to maintaining smooth communication between shoppers and their new stylists, Saks can also look to social media as a way to get the word out about its new feature and engage with its consumers in a new way.