How Saks is Taking Back Fifth Avenue

Once you go shopping and compare the products of monopolies and the rest, you realize that such businesses are not very keen on quality because you have no choice but to buy from them. Besides, whatever price they decide is fit for their commodities, you have no choice but to comply. We, therefore, appreciate the competition that businesses face because then they are forced to up their game through competitive prices, high-end products and services and any other thing that will make us choose one retailer over another.

Marc Metrick, Saks Fifth Avenue president, realizes the threat that new competition brings hence we are not surprised by his decision to take the flagship store to another level. With Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus set to open stores in Manhattan in the next few months, Metrick could only express his gratitude to the two rivals by spending a quarter of a billion dollars on its flagship location. While the overhaul began in 2015, he expects the project to be complete in 2021. So, what have they been able to achieve to date? Let’s see.

Handbag emporium

Handbags have always been every woman’s accessory; therefore we should have expected that Saks would also want to invite new customers with luxury brands as well as affordable bags. For instance, you can buy a $45 tote, and if you want something to set you apart from the rest, then The Row’s $49,500 alligator top handle bag will do. The Saks handbag collection has added 14 new brands to the product offering, and some of them include Bottega Veneta and Celine with new creative leadership this year; Daniel Lee and Hedi Slimane respectively, to be precise. Moreover, they are sure to attract new customers and retain the old ones with the 100 bags that you can only find at Saks. For this to happen, fine jewelry and the beauty department had to be moved, in May 2018, to the second floor leaving the entire 53,000 square-foot ground floor to handbags and leather goods.


Traveling between the floors has been made a sophisticated experience with the newly designed escalator on the main floor. The escalator, designed and created by Rem Koolhaas, a Dutch architect, and OMA in partnership with the flagship store’s Planning and Design department has become a centerpiece for Saks. Metrick also expects it to attract curious shoppers who will find the escalator worthy of a great picture to display on Instagram. The escalator has a large LED ceiling that gives the illusion of a blue sky, and it is multi-colored with its blue and red colors contrasting sharply with the grey curtains used to keep people off the construction area.

Customer service

You do not have to carry your friends along every time you go shopping so they can tip you on the right bag for you. Saks has covered that with 50 handbag style advisers who are knowledgeable on various brands. Further, for those who do not speak English fluently, no more need to learn the language in a hurry to make your shopping experience easier; Saks has 20 multi-lingual service advisers on its main floor to help navigate customers. Also, if you are interested in a specific brand, each vendor shop has a brand-specific representative to cater to whatever inquiries you may have.

If you want to personalize your purchases, then Saks will be offering customization throughout the year for select brands. You can choose from monogramming, graffiti, hand-stamping, embossing and many more and the best thing is that they are all free of charge.

Beauty section

Although it was kicked out of its former floor, the move came with a 40% increase in its floor space and more services. For instance, now you can have an anti-cellulite treatment and facial workouts. With this move, Saks has broken the tradition of stores in which they keep cosmetics on the ground floor to generate traffic. It not only offers clean sightlines but also draws in more natural light from outside; features that it hopes to duplicate in the beauty sections in its other stores.

Final Verdict

Marc Metrick is focused on changing the customer experience in Saks to be memorable, positively and so far, his efforts have paid off especially with the e-commerce changes. Still, he is not yet done as he is hopeful that by the end of the renovations, Saks will be in the league of European’s luxury stores such as Selfridges and Harrods. After all, he is aware that the modern luxury customer is not as patient and forgiving as before.

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