Luxury

Luxury players detail their plans through and beyond the pandemic at NRF

Harrods and Farfetch’s pre-pandemic partnership is paying dividends nearly four years later.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

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A handful of the events at NRF focused on the luxury industry, from resale and off-price to technology and how consumers are gravitating toward marketplaces. We’re highlighting two of those conversions—with Saks Off 5th, and with Farfetch and Harrods—that underscored how the luxury space has caught up with the broader apparel industry when it comes to personalization and creating seamless shopping experiences.

Like many retailers, 2020 sparked a new era of innovation that has carried over through the holiday shopping season and into the new year. Saks Off 5th CEO Paige Thomas described the holiday shopping season as packed with promotion for discounts as consumers’ budgets tightened.

But the changes over the past three years prepared Saks Off 5th for last year’s holiday rush. For example, Saks did not have a mobile app when Thomas started in 2020. Plus, the company rolled out a tiered loyalty program this year that can be used online or in store.

  • “I think that’s the critical focus: to differentiate yourself within the retail environment,” she said. “How quickly [are you] getting product to customers? Are you making all the friction points of the customer journey, from the terms of the store to the time of delivery?”

And Saks could see more customers enter its new digital-first ecosystem, as Thomas previously told Retail Brew that she believes the “trade down” effect will carry into 2023.

A helping hand: Online luxury fashion platform Farfetch went into detail on its partnership with Harrods, a London-based department store. The deal was struck before the pandemic, but Harrods managing director Michael Ward said the partnership has paid off in the new retail landscape.

With the partnership, Harrods has access to Farfetch Black & White, the platform’s suite of commerce solutions and retail technology that includes e-commerce management, operations support, internal logistics support, and technical support.

  • Farfetch seems to want to be known as more than just a marketplace, but also a platform solutions provider.
  • Ward explained that Harrods believed the future of wholesale luxury was at risk of gradually disappearing as brands wouldn’t want to pay the wholesale margins or have products marked down at the end of the season.
  • As one store without the tech capabilities to account for obstacles, which would have required many concessions on the part of the company’s major brand partners, Harrods looked to Farfetch, which already works with many of the same brands Harrods does.

“We should never forget: This is about an experiential industry and the physical,” Ward said. “Everybody said as we went through Covid, it’ll never come back. And it’s come back with a vengeance that nobody has really seen.”

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