With such massive inventories, shopping in large, apparel stores can prove to be overwhelming, even exhausting sometimes, but Nordstrom has an intriguing rebuttal to shoppers who dread combing through the racks.
Following a successful pilot program, Nordstrom announced it will be expanding their “Reserve Online and Try In-Store” offering to nearly 40 stores across the country according to a recent article by Emma Hutchings on PSFK. The appeal of this program is apparent to anyone who has purchased anything online ever: an easy browsing experience combined with knowing something fits before you buy it.
Hutchings noted in her article on PSFK that, “Customers can use ‘Reserve Online and Try In-Store’ through the Nordstrom mobile app. They will receive a text notification when their items are ready, and another one when they arrive in the store to let them know where they can find their dedicated dressing room.”
This program is a shining example of a store effectively employing the best tactics from both online and brick-and-mortar stores. During the pilot, 80 percent of those who used the “Reserve Online and Try In-Store” option used it more than once, indicating to Nordstrom that their customers are receptive to a hybridized shopping experience.
Nordstrom has always been a brand that’s determined to deliver impeccable customer service. Just ask the guy in Anchorage, Alaska who returned a set of tires to them. (In case you didn’t know, that’s not something lining the shelves of their stockroom.) So it’s no surprise that they are a company that has gracefully implemented desired digital aspects into the customer journey while still respecting and maintaining the traditional approach to high-end retailing.
It’s obvious that more retailers are paying attention to shopping trends that embed technology into the experience, but an advanced program like this one would require a few different tech aspects to be successful including (but certainly not limited to):
- A reliable, user-friendly app that shoppers are excited to use, because if they aren’t interested in the app, why would they want to try the feature?
- The ability to collect location data from the customer so push notifications are delivered at the appropriate time in their experience.
- Accurate inventory logs in the store and on the app so a shopper isn’t disappointed that an item they selected isn’t available.
- Internal notification systems for employees (e.g. tablets) that indicate which items are needed by which customer and at what time. This way, the whole experience feels seamless to the customer.
Unless a retailer can effectively master all of those aspects in addition to any specific needs of their location or brand, a program like Nordstrom’s would probably be a waste of resources and could possibly do more damage than good.
As consumers become increasingly dependent on mobility and device-friendly experiences, it’s important for retailers to take note of strategies like this one and find a way to make retail tech innovation fit into their brand. And it’s also important to note that this certainly doesn’t mark the beginning of the end for brick-and-mortar retailers. It signifies a new beginning of a sleek, digitized and intuitive way of shopping.