Neiman Marcus launches digital hub to bring the in-store experience online

Discussion
Source: neimanmarcus.com
Jul 28, 2020
Tom Ryan

Neiman Marcus has created a digital hub, Your Neiman’s, to address the challenge of bringing high-touch service to customers during the coronavirus crisis.

Shoppers going to Your Neiman’s can:

  • Shop online with assistance 
  • Shop online without assistance 
  • Prep for a store visit

Shop online with assistance

In March, Neiman introduced a proprietary app tool, NM Connect, to enable stylists to deliver a store-like experience online. Since then, sales associates have used the Connect platform to support over 1.5 million engagements — including texts, email, and phone and video calls. Shoppers have so far purchased over $60 million through Connect.

Neiman Marcus launches digital hub to bring the in-store experience online
Source: Your Neiman’s – neimanmarcus.com

“The platform was designed to inspire clients, from offering personalized look books, to completing transactions remotely and instantly,” said Katie Mullen, chief digital officer, Neiman Marcus. “With the launch of digital stylists and remote selling capabilities, we are enabling our associates to engage with and support customers anytime, anywhere.”

Customers get matched with stylists by answering a few questions about their lifestyle, personal style and needs. Neiman said stylists have always been complementary, although “not all customers have known how or felt comfortable accessing this service.”

Shop online without assistance

Customers preferring to shop without assistance can explore new styles, products and inspiration across new sections via neimanmarcus.com, emails, digital magazine stories and social media channels. Neiman’s wrote, “We have even adapted storied Neiman Marcus in-store events to virtual engagements. From cooking demonstrations and designer presentations to Fashionphile authentication sessions, Neiman Marcus’ virtual events offer a more interactive way to discover luxury, fashion, and the latest trends.”

Prep for a store visit

Customers browsing Your Neiman’s may book in-store appointments with their Style Advisor or via the bookings section, as well as arrange curbside pickup.

“The world is changing, and we’re all adjusting our habits to accommodate the new normal,” said David Goubert, president and chief customer officer, Neiman Marcus.

Neiman’s filed for bankruptcy in May due to a heavy debt load, pandemic-related store closings and other contributing factors, included heightened competition from online startups and more direct selling from luxury brands.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will bringing elements of the in-store experience online help retailers like Neiman Marcus drive greater customer engagement and sales? Which of the three functional components of Your Neiman’s — shop online with assistance, shop online without assistance and prep for a store visit — offers the best opportunity to differentiate the luxury retailer from its rivals?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"If customers can’t come to you, or aren’t comfortable doing that yet, it makes sense to go to them."
"There is a diminishing perception that high-end luxury can really only be experienced in high-end stores that offer champagne in the fitting rooms."
"You do have to ask how this won’t be a footnote like Sears Shop Your Way to a retailer adrift in bad news and bad leadership."

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14 Comments on "Neiman Marcus launches digital hub to bring the in-store experience online"


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David Naumann
BrainTrust

Long before the pandemic many retailers, including Neiman Marcus, realized the need to combine the benefits of both the physical and digital shopping journeys into a cohesive omnichannel experience. The feature allowing customers to shop online with assistance is the most innovative of these services and is the biggest differentiator, especially for those customers that don’t live near a Neiman Marcus store or are not comfortable entering a store or mall during the pandemic. NM Connect has already benefited Neiman Marcus and its customers and we will see more companies adopting these physical/digital services.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

If customers can’t come to you, or aren’t comfortable doing that yet, it makes sense to go to them.

This reminds me of the program Saks rolled out a few years ago. It too involved personalized shopping online as well as dedicated custom curated boutique pages that associates could use to help customers shop.

We’re all in survival mode. Retailers are pulling out all the stops, testing and implementing whatever they can to draw customers to their stores both physically and online.

Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

I listened to a podcast recently with the CEO of Neiman Marcus and he discussed this as a major initiative for the company. This concept is critical for the success of purchasing high-ticket items online – I believe most customers still want a personal experience when they are paying $2000 for a handbag – whether it’s in-person or online.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I don’t know that it will stop the bleeding that Neiman Marcus is experiencing. While I believe customers do want a unique customer experience, this may be too little too late.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

You’d almost forget that they are walking away from their multi-million dollar flagship at Hudson Yards and about their $10 million in pay raises for CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck and 7 other executives as the company goes through debt restructuring. And today’s bombshell that they overvalued the company at $7 billion – when it was about $3.9 billion – to gain advantage in the My Theresa deal. Salesfloor has been offering this level of clienteling for a while and it is the future. But you do have to ask how this won’t be a footnote like Sears Shop Your Way to a retailer adrift in bad news and bad leadership.

David Leibowitz
BrainTrust

Virtual consults are happening everywhere. In the U.K., cosmetics retailer Boots launched one-to-one appointment-based personalization. Sony has remote TV and camera consultations to enable easier shopping from home and direct-to-product experts.

Some local repair technicians will even do remote estimation of your next plumbing job.

Remote consultation allows for employees with expertise to engage wherever they are (from the home, the back office, or the cosmetics counter if they aren’t helping someone in-store). That helps both shoppers and business owners/employers.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

This is one of the apparently good approaches to merging online and stores. What I’d like to see is for Neiman Marcus to remain focused on getting people into stores — all evidence shows that store visits are most profitable.

So preparing customers for a store visit? Exceptional assuming that they deliver enough value that consumers are using this service in increasing numbers.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

Yes, bringing elements of the in-store experience online will help retailers. It is smart and long overdue. There will still be some awkward user experience issues but you’ve got to start somewhere. For this particular brand, I think the shop online with assistance feature works and could lead to larger baskets and higher CLV. As for which tactic best differentiates them from luxury retailers, likely all of these choices when combined along with their breadth of merchandise.

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

For the luxury consumer, this is a nice advantage. Neiman’s is doing perhaps what they should have done a long time ago, which is making their products accessible however/whenever/wherever customers want to shop. There is a diminishing perception that high-end luxury can really only be experienced in high-end stores that offer champagne in the fitting rooms. I applaud Neiman’s for rising to the challenge of bringing the luxury shopping experience online.

This may also be an opportunity to reach a wider audience who can afford luxury high-touch service, but want more functional basics (e.g. many affluent consumers today are comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt). Something to consider as they re-evaluate the financial head-room on their current business model. However, they need to focus on experience and personalization. Shopping with or without an assistant or arranged store visits are not unique services in today’s environment.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Feels like the wrong questions. The answer to the first one is obviously, “Yes,” since there all kinds of examples already, many that go further, i.e., letting a consultant take an online “tour” of your closet, drawers, house, etc. So, this is more Neiman playing catch up rather than differentiating. Also Bob Phibbs is right. The real question is, “Is this too little, too late?” And, I’m afraid the answer to that may also be, “Yes.”

Kim DeCarlis
BrainTrust

In the B2B world, there has been a long-held tenet that 60% of a buyer’s decision is made before they engage with a vendor. This is increasingly true for the consumer as well, certainly with standard purchases. Integrated omnichannel options can differentiate the buying experience and drive loyalty. Online without assistance will be used for standard purchases (I need new white jeans) whereas with assistance and an extension to try and pick up in-store will be tremendously helpful for special purchases (I need something for a wedding).

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Why not? That having been said, I imagine online help has been available for years. I’m sure the top sales/styling personnel have made their emails avail to customers for years … of course that doesn’t much help newbies, so even if it might seem like (just) a formalization of existing practice, it’s an improvement.

Mary Henslee
Guest
1 month 27 days ago

I am most impressed with Neiman’s partnership with Fashionphile, encouraging their customers to sell and recycle their luxury goods. This creative and brave move may push their high income shoppers to replace some older accessories with new purchases from Neiman’s (sellers to Fashionphile get a 10% bonus if they take their payment on a N-M gift card). But more importantly it shows a dedication to sustainability that a new generation of shoppers will appreciate, while highlighting the durability of luxury fashion. Of course, I believe they should also encourage In-Circle members to participate, with point bonuses, and early access to the most desirable products on Fashionphile, etc!

Rodger Buyvoets
BrainTrust

Yes, initiatives like Neiman Marcus’ will go a long way for their engagement and sales. These kinds of initiatives are especially important for luxury retailers. Luxury retail VIPs are responsible for a lot of company revenue, and these are the consumers that delight in the in-store experience. The luxury VIP consumer has a completely different purchase-intention and mindset. If brands can serve the same personalized in-store experience on their digital platforms, this will resonate. That being said, personal online assistance offers the best opportunity for these retailers, if properly executed by putting this VIP consumer first.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"If customers can’t come to you, or aren’t comfortable doing that yet, it makes sense to go to them."
"There is a diminishing perception that high-end luxury can really only be experienced in high-end stores that offer champagne in the fitting rooms."
"You do have to ask how this won’t be a footnote like Sears Shop Your Way to a retailer adrift in bad news and bad leadership."

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