Nordstrom is known for its exceptional customer service and does not deny publicly that it once took back a set of tires from a customer who was dissatisfied with the purchase even though Nordstrom does not sell tires. The story is not true, but that’s not the point. It speaks to the Nordstrom brand. Similar to other brick and mortar department stores, Nordstrom is challenged by a paradigm shift in the way consumers shop. In response, Nordstrom is constantly tweaking its business model to maintain its relevancy to its customer base and to provide more compelling customer experiences.
The company appointed Olivia Kim vice president of creative projects, and it’s her role to recruit new customers and make the brick and mortar store a destination for fashion inspirations and merchandise that is not easily found elsewhere, according to a recent Glossy podcast. Kim explained the strategies that she is using to appeal to customers interested in fashion, art, culture and style and turn Nordstrom into a go-to destination for that type of inspiration. Experimenting with eight different Nordstrom stores, Kim established theme-related temporary pop-ups within the stores, including digitally native brands such as Everlane and Warby Parker and obtaining exclusive merchandise from existing partners such as Nike and Alexander Wang.
Kim wanted to emulate the Opening Ceremony used in the fashion world for promoting obscure brands or reimagining existing brands. A number of retailers are experimenting with collaborations but for those efforts to be successful they need to be able to interest and inspire consumers. They need to say to customers, “come here because we are on the cutting edge.” Kim explained that consumers “Need to look to you as a point of inspiration for when they go to make their next purchase. Earning trust is how you gain wallet share.”
Kim also recognizes that today’s consumer wants a shopping experience that is easy. It’s more than how quickly someone can acquire a product. It’s more about preference. While she recognizes that Amazon needs to be always on her radar screen, she does not view Amazon as a competitor. She is focused on bringing experience, product and cool ideas to her customers and matching customers to new brands.
Lessons for kitchen and bath showrooms: Consider emulating Opening Ceremony in your showroom for your builder, designer and homeowner customers and show how you can reimagine kitchens in different ways. These may include some of the new technology for kitchens, integrated in cabinet and drawer lighting, including on frameless, the really cool new storage solutions, tile advancements, smart appliances, etc. The opportunities are almost endless. There are also opportunities to pioneer brands that most of your repeat customer base has never heard of. What prevents you from creating a pop up in your showroom featuring different products that are customizable? When you match your customers to new ideas and brands, you are certainly making a distinction between your showroom and online etailers whose most distinctive competency is the quickest route from wanting to getting.