Saks Fifth Ave and the Game of Shopping for Fashion

| By: Abena Gyebi

Day 1 - New York Fashion Week Fall 2014 - NextGen Flash Sales Turn Online Shopping for Fashion into a Game

In spite of allocating $250M to upgrade its flagship Fifth Avenue Store, Saks Fifth Avenue will be giving its Off Fifth location a different kind of renovation—a dress down.  Following in the footsteps of other department store-based discount shops, the parent company Hudson Bay Co plans on making the outlet look a little more unkempt.

“Our outlet stores look too much like department stores,” said Richard Baker, chief executive of Hudson Bay, to WSJ. “Nordstrom Rack is a mess, and customers love it.”

What is it about the mess that’s so appealing? More than just discount, it’s the discovery.  As much as fashion customers love getting deals and steals, they love love LOVE getting their hands on items that few others have. And the effort they put into the discovery—digging through piles, flipping through garment racks, fighting off other shoppers—makes the product all the more valuable.

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Not just in physical outlet stores, we’ve all seen this kind of shopping online, too.  Companies like ASOS and Outnet have been tremendously successful because they combine discovery and discount. Other companies like Ideeli and Gilt have even added a compulsion component, placing an expiration date on deals to encourage shoppers to make their checkout timely.

But what if retailers made online shopping an actual game? Would customers bite?

Lovesac, for one, launched a frenzy-causing Cyber Monday campaign a few years ago where discounts for online shoppers started at 75% off but decrease by 1% with every minute that passes. The site became so overrun by visitors, Lovesac had to beef up its architecture with load balancers and complicated CDNs in preparation for the following year.

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Fashion retailer, DropTilYouShop.com, recently launched the next generation of flash sale sites by putting a price ticker below each product which users click once it rolls down to a price they are willing to pay. Harnessing that same excitement that keeps last-minute bidders refreshing their eBay page, DTYS then links them to checkout where the first user to complete the checkout gets the item.

And that’s where the value comes from when customers are discount shopping for fashion—it’s not just the pleasure of getting a coveted fashion item at a price no one else could. It’s the pride of being crafty enough to discover it in the first place. It’s the effort that went into obtaining it. It’s the adrenaline rush of snagging it just in the nick of time (maybe even from right between someone else’s fingers). It’s about winning. Which tells me one thing—shopping for fashion is a game.

Photos via Flickr/focusedcapture, Flickr/H.L.I.T., Tech Crunch

For more of Corra’s Fashion Week blogs:

Saks Fifth Avenue and the Game of Shopping for Fashion   Daisy Marc Jacobs at Pop-Up Tweet Shop in SoHo   The Democratization of Fashion   Karen Walker Eyewear - Visible Donna Karen’s Non-Models and Lessons in Authenticity   Intel...Inside of Fashion?   day7

Corra is a digital agency creating transformative commerce experiences for fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. With headquarters in New York, Los Angeles and London, Corra provides strategically led creative and technology solutions to a growing global market.