In this edition of TouchPoints TV, Retail TouchPoints Senior Editor Glenn Taylor chatted with Shea Jensen, Senior VP of Customer Experience at Nordstrom, to understand the innovations at the first-ever Nordstrom Men’s store, located on the corner of 57th and Broadway in New York City.
The three-level, 47,000-square-foot store, which opened in April 2018, joins two off-price Nordstrom Rack stores in Manhattan. Nordstrom is just getting started, however: the retailer will open a 320,000-square-foot full-line store across the street from the Men’s store in Fall 2019.
Customization Gives Nordstrom Shoppers The Ultimate In Individualized Experience
Customization is clearly a major selling point of the Men’s store experience; the location includes an interactive digital made-to-measure suit-fitting screen for menswear brand Samuelsohn. The touchscreen projects suit patterns on a mannequin, enabling customers to visualize the merchandise without having to try it on. Shoppers can browse to see how different design details — such as lapels, buttons, pockets, pleats and linings — would appear on the garment with the click of a few buttons.
“Our vantage point on the role of technology in the experience is really that it should help support a great experience for the customers,” said Jensen. “Things like the Samuelsohn display actually address a friction point for our customers, which is: ‘Before I decide to purchase an entire suit from one swatch, I’d like to see what it looks like on a life-sized mannequin.’ We think technology plays an important role in enhancing the experience, but it may not be the experience.”
The store also includes a denim tailoring shop in partnership with Levi’s, where customers can shop for Levi's apparel; design custom embroidery on any denim item; heat press a shirt; or get an express hem or other alteration within the store. Shoppers can mock up their own design to embroider onto their jeans or jackets, or select from dozens of designs within the shop. Services are available for all denim jeans and jackets, not just Levi’s products.
24/7 BOPIS, Reserve & Try, Express Returns Lead In-Store Fulfillment Services
Beyond customization, Nordstrom prides itself on tailoring the customer experience at all touch points. Another way that the Men’s store is designed specifically for the fast-paced lifestyles of Manhattan-based consumers is that shoppers can select same-day delivery (within three hours) for $20, and can interact with personal stylists who handpick items to create a digital “Style Board” based on the shopper consultation.
“We’re excited about the service offering that we’re bringing to New York,” Jensen said. “For example, we offer buy online/pick up in-store [in all our locations], but in New York, customers can choose to pick up their orders 24 hours a day. We also offer, through our mobile app for our Nordy Club loyalty members, the opportunity to reserve any item they see available on Nordstrom.com and choose to try it on in store. After a customer reserves something online, as they approach the store [we use location technologies] to send them a personalized notification telling them exactly where to go to find their items.”
Additionally, the Men’s store offers express returns, enabling customers to return items at three self-service kiosks that resemble a return bin for library books. Using a touchscreen, shoppers scan their receipts, bag their returned items and their account is credited. The only other express returns kiosk is at a Nordstrom store in the retailer’s home town of Seattle.
“New York happens to be our largest digital market, which means customers spend a lot at Nordstrom.com,” Jensen said. “With that, we know that everything doesn’t always work out, so we offer express returns at main entrances at this store, making it easy for customers to return their online purchases.”
Vast Distribution Network Enables Limited In-Store Inventory Plus Online Ship-To-Store
Aside from the apparel and accessories on display, Nordstrom is opting to hold limited inventory at this location. The retailer relies heavily on its distribution network to make this work, coordinating shipments from the Menlo Distribution Center in New Jersey to the New York store two to three times per day. This distribution network comes in handy for supporting recently implemented ship-to-store capabilities, which can attract shoppers to the store even if they hadn’t planned on buying merchandise that’s on display there.
“Customers can shop our full selection at Nordstrom.com and choose any store in the fleet to pick it up,” Jensen said. “What we’ve learned here in this Men’s store in New York is that a lot of our women customers are choosing to pick up their packages here in the store. That tells us our customers value a convenient location to pick up their online order.”
The retailer’s in-store inventory may not have significant depth, but it covers a lot of ground. The Men’s store offers shop-in-shop spaces for high-end designer brands, including Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Christian Louboutin, Comme des Garçons, Dior and Valentino. This is the first time Nordstrom has specifically showcased upscale men’s brands within its stores.
While the Men’s store is both the first step for Nordstrom as it grows its presence in New York, it also is serving as a real-world testing ground, as the retailer tries out innovative store formats and experiments with new ways to attract consumers.