By Michelle Graff
New York--Saks Inc.’s Off 5th chain of department stores launched an e-commerce site Monday, making the company’s deeply discounted merchandise available to consumers around the clock.

Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th President Robert Wallstrom called the opening of the online store a milestone in the chain’s omni-channel retail strategy.

“In addition to our 70 nationwide stores, the e-commerce site is yet another platform through which we can provide our curated off-price shopping experience,” he said. “We want it to be the Saks of the off-price world, a true extension of the brand.”

The website has the same collections as the stores as well as access to the plus-size ladies’ line, Salon Z, which is not available in all stores. There is 24-hour customer service and the company said it will add mobile and tablet enhancements as the site evolves.

Major retailers, both high-end and mid-tier, continue to pour money into their off-price and outlet store segments.

Saks now has 70 Off 5th stores and plans to open seven more in 2014, meaning by the end of next year more than 60 percent of its 118 locations will be Off 5th stores. Nordstrom also has more discount stores, which are called Nordstrom Rack, than full-price locations.

Among specialty jewelers, Signet Jewelers Ltd., operator of Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, and Borsheims are two of the chains investing in their outlet segments.

Signet Jewelers bought Ultra Stores Inc. earlier this year and is in the process of converting those stores into Kay Jewelers Outlet stores while Borsheims picked an outlet mall, the Nebraska Crossing Outlets in Gretna, for its second store. 

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