Can Nordstrom.com compete on experience over price?
Competition in online retail has long been characterized by a relentless focus on low prices and free delivery. In a world where cheap and fast usually wins, Nordstrom.com is bucking that trend by focusing on intelligent automation and ease of use.
“We compete on fashion authority, service and experience,” said Nordstrom.com president Ken Worzel, at this week’s Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas.
Mr. Worzel, who joined Nordstrom in 2010 as EVP of strategy and development, was named president of Nordstrom.com last September. At Shoptalk, he outlined a pilot at a Seattle area store that uses online interaction to deliver a superior unified shopping experience.
It begins with shoppers “discovering digitally” on the website or mobile app, he said. Items purchased from Nordstrom and elsewhere are tracked in a “digital closet.” Norstrom’s intelligent app proposes compatible items and generates “push” notices inviting customers to the physical store.
Upon arrival, a shopper can anticipate finding properly-sized selected items in a dressing room with their name on it, Mr. Worzel said. The intent is to make the shopping visit as efficient and successful as possible.
“For us, 10 minutes in and out of the store is our benchmark,” he said. “Often customers find they have some extra time and decide to shop some more.”
Mr. Worzel said Nordstrom.com is attempting to “erase the boundaries between physical and digital by using the device in their pocket.”
Nordstrom is also exploring the use of natural language search on mobile devices or newer appliances such as Google Home, he added. Voice has potential to make the experience easier on the input side, he said, but it so far remains a challenge to connect with a visual output.
When it comes to providing rich descriptive information about its offerings, Nordstrom.com relies heavily on its 3,000 brand partners. An area of technical development, he said, is to “open up our ecosystem” to these affiliates.
A more streamlined, intuitive, unified shopper experience requires “a great deal of technology behind the scenes,” said Mr. Worzel. “We ask ourselves, how do you not have your organizational structure show up to your customer? That’s a big challenge.”
- Retail’s High Tech Renaissance – Seattle Business
- Nordstrom Announces President of Nordstrom.com and Strategic Shifts in Leadership Responsibilities – Puget Sound Business Journal
- Nordstrom struggles to balance in-store sales with online, cuts back tech investments – Puget Sound Business Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is there a place for experience-first retailing online? How well is Nordstrom.com positioned to win and hold that niche in the face of low price competition?