Customer Experience and Design

Nordstrom and the Reimagination of Retail

Nordstrom just announced that they are opening Nordstrom Local, a new concept store with zero inventory and plenty of one-on-one attention. The store opens in West Hollywood on Oct. 3 — one week after this year’s event in L.A. (maybe we’ll get a sneak peek when we’re out there.) The format is an experiment in all the things we want from a great store experience: personal stylists, fittings, tailoring, free returns, curb-side pick-up, and, of course, cold-pressed juice. It’s everything you want from a store — except the merchandise. But that’s OK — we were probably going to order online anyway, and that is the point.

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated – The Retail Industry

The show room isn’t new, but showrooming is. Once considered an existential threat, showrooming (and it’s alter-ego, webrooming) are the new normal, with companies like Nordstrom turning their physical footprints into a competitive advantage. Nordstrom’s move is interesting because in so many ways it’s a reduction of the physical store to the only things that really matter in a store experience. It’s more than a new format. It’s another step in the reimagining of retail.
Other than the obviously bold idea of eliminating the merch, racks, stock room, and loading dock, we were thinking about what really might make this work. As we envisioned other brands making the same move (could you really take a 3-year-old to a toy store and not leave with anything?) we came up with three criteria for leaving your inventory in the distribution center.
First, the products should be very personal to the consumer. I don’t necessarily mean one-of-a-kind personalized, but items that will be exclusively used by the owner that require attentive assistance by the store associates. If you’ve never been fitted for a Sleep Number Bed, go out this weekend and check it out.
Secondly, it should express the shopper’s identity and personal expression in a way that a store associate can provide guidance and advice. Fashion, of course, is the epitome of personal expression, but don’t limit that to the clothes you wear. The car you drive and the team you follow are also expressions of identity.
Finally, it should be a considered purchase and something you don’t need instantaneously. If you really need a cup of sugar, ask your neighbor.
What are you reimagining today?

About the Author

Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.

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