New Nord­strom store aims for per­sonal touch

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - RON­ALD D. WHITE LOS AN­GE­LES — Los An­ge­les Times

The lat­est ad­di­tion to the Nord­strom ros­ter looks noth­ing like a depart­ment store and more like an ex­clu­sive boutique crossed with a hip­ster cof­fee and juice bar.

At Nord­strom Lo­cal, a 3,000square-foot, ivy-cov­ered shop on Mel­rose Place in Los An­ge­les’ Bev­erly Grove neigh­bour­hood, cus­tomers can meet with a per­sonal stylist, have cloth­ing tai­lored, get a man­i­cure and sip a bev­er­age laced with caf­feine or al­co­hol.

Just don’t try to browse the racks. Be­cause there aren’t any.

Shea Jensen, Nord­strom’s se­nior vice-pres­i­dent for cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, said the new shop, which is much smaller than the chain’s av­er­age 140,000-square-foot store, is an ex­per­i­ment em­pha­siz­ing pam­pered ser­vice and con­ve­nience.

“What we are try­ing to do is bring to­gether the best of our most pop­u­lar ser­vices to a place that is very easy for our cus­tomers to ac­cess as they are shop­ping with Nord­strom,” she said.

“Time is a pre­cious com­mod­ity and we know that our cus­tomers ap­pre­ci­ate speed and con­ve­nience,” Jensen said. “With Nord­strom Lo­cal we are try­ing to cre­ate more ac­ces­si­bil­ity and op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Nord­strom’s test con­cept comes as tra­di­tional re­tail­ers are be­ing bat­tered by the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of shop­ping on­line and at dis­count mass mer­chants, which has eroded mall traf­fic and hurt profit mar­gins. Sears Canada has an­nounced it is clos­ing down, throw­ing 12,000 peo­ple out of work.

Nord­strom, which pri­mar­ily is found at malls with more ex­pen­sive stores, has held up bet­ter than many other re­tail­ers, and mem­bers of the Nord­strom fam­ily who run the Seat­tle com­pany have been try­ing to raise money to take it pri­vate. The com­pany op­er­ates 121 tra­di­tional Nord­strom stores in the U.S. and Canada, 224 Nord­strom Rack dis­count stores, two Jef­frey bou­tiques and two clear­ance stores.

Re­tail ex­perts say Nord­strom may be on to some­thing by of­fer­ing a dif­fer­ent, more in­ti­mate ap­proach at Nord­strom Lo­cal. The re­tailer is bor­row­ing a page from sev­eral trendy e-com­merce sites that have opened bricks-and-mor­tar store­fronts as show­rooms to try on cloth­ing or to con­nect with their fan base.

“There’s a new term for this, which we call ‘re­tail-tain­ment,’” said Lisa Had­dock, who teaches mar­ket­ing, brand man­age­ment and con­sumer be­hav­iour at San Diego State Univer­sity.

It’s de­signed to be “a fun, unique, per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence,” Had­dock said.

“A cus­tomer can have a glass of wine. She can have her nails done. She can re­lax. You have to have that kind of in­ter­ac­tion to en­gage the cus­tomer and reach them on an emo­tional level.”

Nord­strom Lo­cal is de­signed around a one-stop shop­ping ap­proach, Jensen said. Cus­tomers who have bought items on­line can pick up their pur­chases in the store, make sure they fit and get them al­tered if they don’t.

CHRISTINA HOUSE, LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

A cus­tomer tries on a pair of Gucci sneak­ers at Nord­strom Lo­cal in LA.

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