Nordstrom’s Big Secret

NordstromStore"Improve customer service."

And that is a direct quote from Jamie Nordstrom, president Nordstrom Direct.

Of all the good moves the luxury fashion specialty retailer makes as part of its digital strategy, the best one is remembering that serving customer in store remains a winning proposition.

Digital has changed customer expectations.

Pleasing customers in 1901 was much different from pleasing customers in
2012, "The cornerstone of the business has always been the people,"
said Nordstrom. "We spend a lot of time talking about how we can improve
our team. … It's the topic at most of our meetings."

Most decisions are made by the people in the front lines — the very same ones you talk with when you visit a store.

Had it not been for a patient Nordstrom sales associate, I would have not found what has fast become my favorite business travel bag by MZ Wallace. It's large enough for me to carry a laptop and iPad in it, and strong enough to hold the weight of an umbrella and even a bunch of printed papers for my client meetings. I've used it every day for 10 months and it still looks new.

When I walked into the store I had something completely different in mind. The sales associate started showing me models and seeing they were not hitting the mark, she started asking questions about how I envisioned using the bag, and even y favorite designers.

Once she had a fuller picture of my taste and usage patterns, she proposed the MZ Wallace line. I had not considered it because I had no idea it even existed. The product was so spot on that since buying it, I have not felt the need to purchase a purse — I use that. It looks as good with little in it as it does at capacity.

And it's comfortable to carry over the shoulder or with the long strap.

This is just one example of how taking the time to understand customers pays off.

While eCommerce is a critical part of today's retailers, customers still live in the real world and especially for a specialty luxury fashion brand, experiences in physical stores matter.

Plus, we are seeing more and move evidence of how through the ubiquity of wifi and smart phones our information habits have quickly changed and the next frontier in digital is in store. Customers are blurring the lines between digital and in store.

In addition to its own stores, Nordstroms is also expanding its outlet chain Rack. In 2011, Nordstrom acquired private flash sales company Hautelook, and in 2012 men's wear company Bonobos. The value proposition for both is integrating fresh experiences into its portfolio of offerings.

Nordstrom's most recent partnership is with U.K.-based fast-fashion retailer TopShop.

  • Flash sales
  • Men's fashion
  • Fast fashion

Are all trends, not fads, and provide opportunities for the retailer to learn more about customers' changing taste and expectations.

Nordstrom's wisdom resonated in another quote:

"The customer doesn't care who gets credit for the sale." 



Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.

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