Here's How Nordstrom is Keeping Things Local with Its Innovative Store Concept

As online shopping becomes ever more popular among consumers, the retail industry is tripping over itself to innovate the brick-and-mortar retail space. Now fashion brand Nordstrom is throwing its hat into the ring with a new take on the local shop concept.

John Nordstrom emigrated to the US in 1887 at just 16 years' old. He worked hard and bought a plot of land in Arlington ten years later. Joining the Klondike gold rush, the same year, he struck gold and sold his claim for $13,000, using the money to return home to Seattle and open his first shoe shop in 1901. By 1958, Nordstrom had eight show shops in two states and expanded the business into apparel in 1963.

Today, Nordstrom is one of the largest retail brands in the world. The company employs over 72,000 staff and has revenues of $14,757 million - placing it at #188 on the Fortune 500.

A New Local Shop Concept

With changing shopping habits and the proliferation of online shopping, the brick-and-mortar arena has been in turmoil. Falling sales has led to store closures and some brands disappearing from the high street altogether. As such, the focus for high street centric companies today is to find ways of incorporating new and innovative experiences into their physical locations which offer something the online space cannot.

Everyone has some concept in their mind of the archetypal local shop. Whether it's the famous "corner shop" convenience stores of England, or the small-town diner where many Americans would have taken their first date for a cheeseburger and milkshake, the local shop has long been considered a hub for people and the communities they live in.

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And this is the essence Nordstrom has attempted to capture with its own local shop concept. Starting with a 3,000 square-foot location in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, visitors to Nordstrom's new store won't find racks of clothing and shoes, but instead a coffee and juice bar, and a manicure and beauty salon.

"It's a neighborhood hub," said Shea Jensen, Vice President of Consumer Experience at Nordstrom. "Particularly in LA, we know from our customers that driving isn't always easy and it can take a great deal of time. What we are hoping to do at Nordstrom Local is bring some of the most popular or highly demanded services closer to our customers, right there in their own neighborhood, so they can access our services and our people at a time and place that works for them."

Staying True to the Nordstrom Brand

Clothes are still available at the new local shop, but customers will need to book an appointment with a stylist. They can then relax with a hot coffee while they discuss their wants and needs with a professional who will then be able to present a range of products to them. With the recently acquired Trunk Club and a full-time in-store tailor, local shop visitors can even customize everything about their clothing down to the type of buttons, lining, stitching and measurements of their clothing, as well as having repairs carried out - creating the impression of an old-fashioned tailor's shop experience.

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"Imagine being on your way to work and your hem falls out of your dress or pants and we're able to get that fixed for you while you wait," said Jensen. "While waiting, why not indulge in an almond milk latte or a manicure? We had a customer who had an online order he purchased, a sport coat. He came in and tried it on and it didn't quite fit right, so he thought 'What a bummer, I'm going to have to return it.' But in fact, we were able to fit it for him right there with the help of the tailor while he waited."

While a largely merchandise-free retail model may seem like an odd direction for a business operating in a struggling industry to take, it's not the intention of Nordstrom for the local shop concept to replace its more traditional margin and transaction driven stores. The idea is for them to instead be complementary through focusing on Nordstrom's lifestyle branding - something which the brand considers to be one of its key differentiators.

Final Thoughts

Nordstrom's new store concept is a fantastic idea, and a novel way to try and bring local shop sensibilities to a big brand dominated high street. By placing experience ahead of sales, Nordstrom hopes to be able to excel at both.

The final word goes to Vice President of Consumer Experience at Nordstrom, Shea Jensen.

"This is our first opportunity to open a Nordstrom Local and what's most important to us now is that we invite customers to come in, participate in the services, give us great feedback and we're focused on delivering a great experience to those customers."

You can hear Nordstrom's Senior Vice President of Technology, Brian Gill, speak at Future Stores West 2018 this June at the Sheraton Seattle, WA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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