Nordstrom, in its ongoing effort to make physical retail relevant against online options, says it will now offer its "Reserve Online & Try In Store" service in almost 40 stores around the country.
Like most retailers, Nordstrom is struggling to find ways to interest shoppers in its full-price offerings. (The store is outperforming its rivals, but that strength stems from growth in Nordstrom Rack, its off-price division, not its flagship brand.) It’s been testing this Reserve Online option in six stores in Washington state since last fall, and says that 80% of those who used it liked it so well they continued to do so.
Most retailers, including Nordstrom, have been offering “Buy online and pickup in stores” and curbside pickup for online orders for some time. And an increasingly large number of apparel brands, including Amazon, are following the Stich Fix model, a subscription service that sends people selected clothing and shoes to try on before buying.
Nordstrom’s new program combines elements of the two, offering the ease of online and mobile selection with Nordstrom’s in-store customer service. And for fashion-forward shoppers who want the very latest trends, colors and sizes, it’s a guarantee they won’t schlep to the store and be disappointed by lack of availability. Because the Seattle-based store uses text messaging to alert shoppers when items are available and where to find their dedicated dressing room, it feels personal, too.
The hybrid service provides "a better experience for customers shopping with Nordstrom, whether that's online, in-store or a combination of both," says Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s VP/customer experience, in its announcement. "Many of our customers like to feel and try on clothes and shoes before they purchase them and we're excited to offer them a more convenient way to do so."
The new service joins programs like Style Boards, Nordstrom’s mobile tool that lets salespeople build digital boards with personalized style recommendations for their customers, who can then view (and buy) them on their phones.
Earlier this month, Nordstrom announced results that beat both expectations and many of its competitors, with corporate comparable-store sales results rising 1.7%. At the Nordstrom brand, including Nordstrom.com, those sales advanced 1.4%, while Nordstrom Rack saw gains of 3.5%. And sales at Nordstrom.com jumped 20% for the quarter. Competitors like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue (owned by HBC Corp.) and Macy’s have all seen steeper declines.
L2, the digital think tank, currently ranks Nordstrom as No. 2, in Digital IQ for department stores, just behind Macy’s.