Multi-platform Retail – Experiences replace the need for inventory

Nordstrom plans to open a store in Los Angeles that will have no inventory. Our Principal of Strategy & Innovation at Perficient Digital, Jim Hertzfeld says, “THIS is the future of physical retail,” and he points to what menswear retailer Indochino has been doing in retail, expanding from web into bricks-and-mortar. We’ve seen the same from Warby-Parker, Bonobos and Boll & Branch.
Though Nordstrom started as brick & mortar, branched out heavily into digital and then now is exploring new models for their physical locations, the latter four brands were digital-only, eCommerce phenomenons that started by building a brand and a customer base online but have recently begun expanding into physical retail.

Nordstrom’s New Store – The Facts

  • The store will be 3,000 square feet.
  • It opens October 3rd at 8401 Melrose Place in West Hollywood.
  • It will have no inventory.
  • Services offered will include:
    • personal stylists
    • one styling suite and eight dressing rooms
    • alterations
    • manicures
    • beverages including beer and wine, cold-pressed juices, and espresso drinks from Nordstrom Ebar.
    • product pick-up from Nordstrom’s Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store (BOPIS) service, which will even include same-day pickup if you order before 2 p.m.
    • returns: return any product from Nordstrom stores, and Trunk Club

The stylist feature appears to be a big aspect of these retailer/digital “omnichannel” explorations.
Similarly, at Indochino’s new showrooms, the Chicago Tribune notes:

At Indochino’s showrooms, “style guides” take customers’ measurements and walk them through customization options, from fabric selection to monogramming. Garments are delivered in about four weeks.

Shifting Control to the Customer

The “empowered consumer,” which we have written about often here, is taking more and more control if her shopping experience.
“Customers like having more ability to shop on their terms,” said President of Stores James F. Nordstrom in a late-August interview with RIS NewsThe store plays a huge role in that, and they’re really important. And they’re going to be the hub of a lot of the things that we do over time, which is why we want to continue investing in our most important markets.”
Nordstrom has been addressing this shifting control by investing in digital for many years, and it’s paying off. According to, their online sales growth was up 27% for and HauteLook, and up 20% for in Q2, 2017.

“Such retail mashups are becoming more common as stores strive to incorporate unexpected experiences to entice customers who otherwise might be content to shop online. Surprising activities could get them off the couch and walking into an actual store.” – USA Today

In “The Age of the Customer,” the balance of power has shifted from manufacturing and distribution to the highly informed, constantly connected customer. And companies know that providing the best experience, as well as unique and unforgettable experiences, to these customers is key to their success.

About the Author

Erin E. Moloney is Director of Marketing at Perficient, Inc.

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