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High-end department stores using social media to make millions

The top sales reps at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus aren’t making their numbers by trolling the floor and spritzing shoppers’ wrists with perfume.

Instead, they’re on their personal Instagram accounts, posting photos of $900 Gucci sneakers, $5,800 Chanel jackets and $1,300 Balenciaga clutches — and racking up millions in sales.

“This @veronicabeard silk twist front halter top is exclusive to @neimanmarcus and isn’t available to order online yet!” Alexandra Beck, an Austin, Texas-based Neiman sales rep, posted on Oct. 25 to her more than 5,800 followers. “Message me to order!!!!!”

Last week, Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck boasted at a conference in New York hosted by WWD that the swanky chain’s top sales associate was based in Austin and was generating more than $2 million in sales a year using her Instagram account.

Neiman officials declined to comment on whether Beck was that associate. Beck didn’t return messages seeking comment.

“They could get poached,” one luxury store executive told The Post.

Indeed, a spokesman for Saks said the company has “several” sales associates who generate more than $1 million a year through social media — including a Philadelphia-based rep who has crossed the $2 million mark — and he refused to identify any of them.

Well-heeled shoppers still aren’t hitting the malls the way they did before the financial crisis, and many wealthy millennials never got into the habit to begin with. In response, luxury stores increasingly are meeting them where they are — namely, on their social media accounts.

At Neiman, sales reps’ Instagram posts dangle exclusive deals and sneak peeks on the latest fashions — a new twist on the old practice of hitting the phones and sending out handwritten notes. The strategy has helped drive an 8 percent increase in Neiman’s customer count over the past year, the company said.

“They are the modern-day stylists leveraging social networks to reach beyond the four walls of the stores,” a Neiman Marcus spokeswoman told The Post.

While many Neiman associates have been selling on Instagram for a while now, the company started a social-media training program in June to expand the practice. Sales reps at Barneys New York are getting similar training, according to a company spokesman.

“It’s a new way that associates use to communicate with clients on a national scale,” the Barneys spokesman said.

More than 70 percent of Instagram’s daily users, which number more than 500 million, are under age 35. Still, the stores’ refusal to identify their social-media stars is a sharp departure from the old days, says retail publicist Melanie Holland.

Consider Bergdorf Goodman’s top producer, Betty Halbreich, who wrote the book “I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist,” about being the personal shopper to stars and socialites.

“The whole point of being an influencer is not to be anonymous,” Holland said.



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