Flash sale websites were supposed to spark radical changes in the retail landscape. And in a way, they have, though perhaps not quite in the way that most people expected. With the announcement that Saks Fifth Avenue would be purchasing Gilt.com, another of the big e-commerce sites is losing its independent status. In this merger, Saks’ parent company, Hudson Bay Co., will expand some of its discount-oriented Saks’ Off Fifth stores with dedicated Gilt departments. In addition to products that traditionally would be available through the Gilt website, the departments will feature extensive seating and channels to enable customers to visit the e-commerce site while inside the store. As an added element, the Gilt departments will provide appointments with stylists and personal shoppers for those who prefer such services. The in-store experience thus will change, but the reason for the merger likely has more to do with the online channel. Although both Saks and Saks Off Fifth already had websites, adding the Gilt name, and membership rolls, should expand this presence substantially and transform Saks into a true multichannel retailer in one fell swoop. A similar tactic, when Nordstrom purchased Haute Look and linked it to its Nordstrom Rack off-price stores, has proved beneficial for one of Saks’ biggest competitors.
Source: Leena Rao, Fortune, February 9, 2016