37 min

Saks CMO Emily Essner on building a digital business off of a legacy retailer The Modern Retail Podcast

    • Entrepreneurship

Saks has big plans to grow its business by focusing on digital initiatives and targeting younger shoppers.
The company spun off its digital business from its well-known stores in late 2021. And the retailer says the two-business strategy has worked out: it's acquired 3 million new customers over the last year-plus. According to CMO Emily Essner, it's because Saks is more focused on being new than ever before.
The problems the business had before the spin-off, she said, was "a lot of the things you would think about -- [Saks] was certainly much less data-oriented, much less digitally oriented, a lot of feelings, a lot less science. And then I think there was just less orientation, candidly, around the customer."
Essner joined the Modern Retail Podcast and spoke about the new strategy and how the last year has gone for Saks.
One of her big priorities has been reorienting Saks' marketing strategy. While the company has for decades been advertising, Essner said it wasn't as targeted as she would like -- especially on the digital side. For example, she's been focusing more on search than ever before. "I think [we] got a lot more sophisticated in our strategy," she said. The company, she added, has been investing in live commerce and continues to see it pay dividends with engaged shoppers.
Meanwhile, Saks has been focusing on expanding to new customers -- such as younger shoppers and men -- while also leveraging its immense customer data to focus on loyalty. With that, said Essner, retention has been a big part of the puzzle. "We use [all the customer data] within all of our owned channels to really tailor our messaging. It plays a huge role in getting you to come back," she said.
With this, Essner sees more growth on the horizon for the retailer. The focus, she said, is about "retaining more customers. And it's getting them to shop with us more frequently, which is all around figuring out -- through our personalization efforts -- how we serve them better."

Saks has big plans to grow its business by focusing on digital initiatives and targeting younger shoppers.
The company spun off its digital business from its well-known stores in late 2021. And the retailer says the two-business strategy has worked out: it's acquired 3 million new customers over the last year-plus. According to CMO Emily Essner, it's because Saks is more focused on being new than ever before.
The problems the business had before the spin-off, she said, was "a lot of the things you would think about -- [Saks] was certainly much less data-oriented, much less digitally oriented, a lot of feelings, a lot less science. And then I think there was just less orientation, candidly, around the customer."
Essner joined the Modern Retail Podcast and spoke about the new strategy and how the last year has gone for Saks.
One of her big priorities has been reorienting Saks' marketing strategy. While the company has for decades been advertising, Essner said it wasn't as targeted as she would like -- especially on the digital side. For example, she's been focusing more on search than ever before. "I think [we] got a lot more sophisticated in our strategy," she said. The company, she added, has been investing in live commerce and continues to see it pay dividends with engaged shoppers.
Meanwhile, Saks has been focusing on expanding to new customers -- such as younger shoppers and men -- while also leveraging its immense customer data to focus on loyalty. With that, said Essner, retention has been a big part of the puzzle. "We use [all the customer data] within all of our owned channels to really tailor our messaging. It plays a huge role in getting you to come back," she said.
With this, Essner sees more growth on the horizon for the retailer. The focus, she said, is about "retaining more customers. And it's getting them to shop with us more frequently, which is all around figuring out -- through our personalization efforts -- how we serve them better."

37 min

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