Outlet Malls Finally Embrace Growing Online Shopping Trend

On the latest episode of the E-Commerce Retail Briefing podcast:

Are outlets finally moving online? Outlet mall selections were previously only available at brick-and-mortar locations. Now one of the largest mall owners, Simon Property Group, has launched a website, shoppremiumoutlets.com, where brands from Vince to Under Armour offer their outlet goods for sale online.

  • Burberry and The RealReal announced a partnership that encourages customers to sell the designer’s pieces on the luxury consignment marketplace. In return, customers will receive exclusive access to a personal shopping experience in select Burberry stores in the U.S. According to a company press release, consumer demand for Burberry goods has increased 64 percent year-over-year. The new partnership between Burberry and The RealReal is part of the company’s efforts to promote the benefits of a circular economy for fashion by encouraging customers to extend the life of their products through resale, per the release. 
  • Zulily introduced a feature that aims to show shoppers how much cheaper its prices are compared to retail giants Amazon and Walmart. The comparison will show up on thousands of Zulily product pages every day as long as the exact item is also being sold on Amazon or Walmart.com. During testing, Zulily said its prices were lower than competitor’s 97 percent of the time. It’s a bold move since its unclear how Amazon and Walmart will respond to the strategy.
  • Stitch Fix has added direct selling to its platform for the first time. The company launched two new features that let customers shop personalized recommendations directly. The new features, which are currently available to adult women in the U.S., rely on Stitch Fix’s data alone, removing the eye of human stylists from product recommendations. Opening up direct selling gives more control to Stitch Fix customers over specific items and needs, as well as lowering the barrier to entry for potential Stitch Fix clients. According to the company’s CFO, the new features will improve the company’s overall margins.

Outlets Make The Jump To Online Shopping

Outlet malls haven’t felt the same strain as other retailers as the shift to online shopping continues to grow. Shoppers were often willing to head to the outlet stores for reduced-price goods that weren’t widely available online. Now one of the largest mall owners, Simon Property Group, has launched a website, shoppremiumoutlets.com, where brands from Vince to Under Armour offer their outlet goods for sale online. It’s one of the first websites to feature merchandise from outlet stores. 

The Chief Executive of Simon Property Group said he’s not worried about the website pulling shoppers away from his company’s outlet malls. One of which includes Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets with 250 stores from Gucci to Nike, and does over $1.4 billion in sales annually. He says he thinks both online and brick-and-mortar will feed off each other to generate higher sales.  

Outlet retailers are among the last to move online. The new push comes as they continue to face stiffer competition from off-price chains like T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, along with regular stores that have cut prices to remain competitive.