In more retail reinvention, Rent the Runway is installing drop-off boxes in four Nordstrom stores.
Rent the Runway, a popular style-booster for fashionistas who prefer renting rather than owning high-end clothing, says the four locations are an added convenience for those in a hurry to send their selections back. And for Nordstrom, which is placing the boxes primarily in its new Nordstrom Local stores, this offers another chance to shake up its conventional department-store offerings.
Rent the Runway, launched in 2009, crossed the $1 billion valuation mark earlier this year, and currently has five stand-alone stores. And it also recently announced a partnership with WeWork, offering drop-off bins in 19 WeWork locations.
Like many department stores, Nordstrom has been struggling with sales declines, as consumers increasingly turn to off-price and online shopping for apparel. In its most recent quarterly results, the Seattle-based chain says total sales fell 3.5%, which it blamed on softening loyalty, digital and merchandise trends, citing “executional misses.”
The expansion of Nordstrom Local is an essential ingredient in the company's efforts to recapture former consumer excitement, especially with younger, affluent shoppers. The small concept stores are meant to serve as hubs and redefine the omnichannel retail experience. Now open only in Los Angeles, these stores carry little inventory, but offer many personal services, from styling to tailoring to nail bars.
Two new hubs are scheduled for New York this fall, along with the October opening of Nordstrom's first full-service store in the Big Apple.
The idea is to blend the ease of online shopping with Nordstrom’s focus on service. "We first introduced Nordstrom Local to customers in Los Angeles with the goal of better serving them on their own terms," stated Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s senior vice president of customer experience, in the announcement about Local’s expansion.
"We know our local market strategy is driving outsized market share gains in LA and increased product selection, delivery speed and convenience for those customers," Jensen added, noting that "customers who visit Nordstrom Local spend two and a half times more on average."
Notrdstrom is not alone in looking for ways to reinvent retail. Macy’s, for example, last year bought Story, narrative-driven retail concept that curates hundreds of products from dozens of brands, centered around one simple theme, like “Color,” which change every few months.
And Neiman Marcus, which had partnered with Rent the Runway for a short-lived store-within-a-store test, recently invested in Fashionphile, which sells pre-owned luxury handbags and accessories.