Nordstrom nails its NYC flagship opening

Discussion
Photo: Nordstrom
Oct 30, 2019
Shelley E. Kohan

Department stores have been under scrutiny for failing to stay in tune with their core markets and not updating the environment to meet the needs of today’s shopper. However, it is not doom and gloom across every brand. My visit to Nordstrom’s new flagship store in New York revealed that it is both exciting and relevant.

While many department stores are trying to captivate the Millennials and Gen Z market, Nordstrom is doing it. Services from Express Returns to Service Stations resonate with younger consumers and time-starved shoppers. The space dedicated to Express Pick-Up (buy online and pick up in-store) is organized and inviting. Other amenities offered are charging stations, which are still being used by shoppers, and food/beverage areas, including two restaurants and two bars.

Nordstrom nails its NYC flagship opening
Photo: Nordstrom

The mix of merchandise includes curation of brands for the younger customer, like Fjällräven and Nike alongside many niche brands and designer exclusives. Nordstrom created a POP-IN shop with EverLane, a fan favorite to today’s conscious shopper who values sustainability and transparency. The shoe floor has a breadth of merchandise to please a wide range of shoppers, from Teva and Steven Madden to Christian Louboutin. 

The most exciting area, however, is the Beauty Haven where many brands were showcased with music and lively spirit amongst the staff. The beauty area has an air of excitement not seen in many years for department stores, including a beauty mirror with augmented reality providing shoppers with product recommendations. Beauty concierge is part of the service deliverable as well as facials, blowouts and make-up applications. 

Hats off to Nordstrom for creating a fun, exciting environment. The configuration of the building is not an easy one, with split-levels and uneven sides, but Nordstrom has designed a store that is easily navigated, with clear signing, natural light and flow that makes sense to shoppers.

Nordstrom nails its NYC flagship opening
Photo: Shelley E. Kohan

Nordstrom wins because it has curated relevant product with a clear fashion point of view. It has not massed out the assortment with quantity, but zeroed in on the quality. Traditional brands (Burberry) have updated assortments, while younger brands (VOLON) add the edge to newness. Responsible fashion (Madewell) is evident and will resonate with today’s shopper. 

The relevancy and depth of experience in the store is enhanced by exceptionally well-trained associates. Empowered associates can create highly engaged selling teams that translate to a committed and loyal shopper. Nordstrom’s senior team listens to its employees and their customers, putting it ahead of the competition.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Nordstrom has found the executional balance needed to appeal to both its core customers and younger consumers with its new flagship in New York City? What changes made to the flagship do you expect Nordstrom to roll out to its other department stores?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Exemplary service plus a great shopping experience is what will put Nordstrom over the top."
"In a world that is dominated by individualism and independent self-reliance in shopping experiences, Nordstrom hits a long ball here."
"What Nordstrom will take from its New York flagship store is the execution proof-point that brand consistency does not have to mean a boring in-store experience."

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10 Comments on "Nordstrom nails its NYC flagship opening"


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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Great to hear. From the pictures shared here and elsewhere it looks like an exciting and vibrant space. The key though is converting the curious shopper to the loyal customer. I always look at the number of bags going out the door to see how that happens. Kudos to Nordstrom – we need our heroes.

Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

Overall, the new Nordstrom is a strong addition to the NYC retail landscape. The mix of high and low in terms of price point and product offering was smart – it gives an entry point to young customers to become loyal Nordstrom customers. There were plenty of places for customers to stop, socialize and have cocktails – which created a more social-club feel than a typical department store. Whether that can be replicated in markets where people drive to stores is another story, but in NYC it was an added plus.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

I absolutely agree that Nordstrom wins. Not only for curating relevant product with high quality yet edgy and distinctive fashion but, most importantly, because they are not doing so as a balancing act of compromises. Rather they are delivering on multiple points of fashion and diverse shopping demands! Nordstrom’s execution does not settle for the illusory average customer but boldly addresses a redefined and exciting luxury experience that can scale.

What Nordstrom will take from its New York flagship store is the execution proof-point that brand consistency does not have to mean a boring in-store experience.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Nordstrom has always been one of the better department stores in terms of how its physical spaces look and feel. The New York store, however, is on another level. It is a spectacle that gives people reasons to visit that go well beyond the need to buy.

Outside of big cities, where Nordstrom does relatively well, it is challenging to replicate this attraction. Nordstrom is in many malls where this kind of concept would not give the return on investment because footfall has fallen and continues to decline. Nordstrom on its own cannot pull it back.

However, an injection of the NYC thinking into other more successful locations could be just the shot in the arm Nordstrom needs to boost its performance.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

No doubt, this new Nordstrom store is beautiful. NYC always gets the best in retail.

Several of the things mentioned in the article are similar to what is available at the Nordstrom store near me. And other than specific brands geared to younger consumers, most of what is described in the article will be appreciated by customers of all ages. I’m glad to read that Nordstrom didn’t forget its core customers. Boomers still hold the most in discretionary dollars.

Here’s the thing: Pretty stores with fun and exciting environments don’t mean a thing when service falls short. I know I am not the only one who has found Nordstrom’s legendary customer service to be less than legendary lately. Exemplary service plus a great shopping experience is what will put Nordstrom over the top.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Nordstrom’s consumer-centric reinvention delivers a superior experience – and shoppers will keep coming back.

To delight its core audience and younger shoppers, Nordstrom is wise to focus on consumers’ desire for:

  • Speed and convenience (BOPIS and fast returns);
  • Social connection (restaurants and bars);
  • Innovation to boost brand trust (AR in beauty to try before you buy); and
  • Variety (pop-in shops and niche brands).

Retaining classic brands and quality service will encourage traditional Nordstrom shoppers to stay loyal as the retailer evolves.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Bravo to Nordstrom. I know from my years at Nordstrom that the NYC flagship is a decades-long vision realized. While others have closed flagships, Nordstrom continues to be one of the best merchants in the world. Nordstrom does not chase business, Nordstrom leads with class and style, always true to the customer while giving each associate the freedom to thrive.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

In a world that is dominated by individualism and independent self-reliance in shopping experiences, Nordstrom hits a long ball here. We all know that great retailers create sensory experiences and loads of emotions in-store. Perhaps, in this “individual” based world, Nordstrom is reloading the customer-centric emotional entertainment experience. I believe they are, and I believed they always would.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

I can’t wait to see this space firsthand! The photos WOW. That said, I wouldn’t expect any less upon cutting the red carpet. I’ll be watching to see how the store, the assortment, and the sales associates continue to deliver an exceptional shopping experience over time.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

While I don’t disagree with Shelley’s assessment — Nordstrom does a very good job at what they do — I’m less inclined to agree with her (implicit) characterization of them as a “department store.” They don’t call themselves that, and if we look at what ails department stores, a bifurcation of the market into high and low price segments aka, the disappearance of “middle class shoppers,” it’s apparent why stores like Nordstrom (at the high end and stores like Target at the low end) have benefitted from the changes. So, yes, congrats for a job well done, but the lessons for competitors … well, there just aren’t that many left.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Exemplary service plus a great shopping experience is what will put Nordstrom over the top."
"In a world that is dominated by individualism and independent self-reliance in shopping experiences, Nordstrom hits a long ball here."
"What Nordstrom will take from its New York flagship store is the execution proof-point that brand consistency does not have to mean a boring in-store experience."

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