Nordstrom raises the customer service bar in Canada
Based on Target’s experience, it might be tempting to believe that American retailers just don’t speak the same language(s) as Canadian consumers. But Nordstrom is proving American stores that Canadians like to shop when visiting the U.S. can also translate when moving north of the border. In fact, early reviews of Nordstrom’s entry into the Canadian market suggest the department store chain is putting pressure on local stores to up their customer service levels.
"Over the past few years, Calgarians have become so accustomed to lackadaisical customer service that even the simplest elements of client care are almost mind-boggling for us now," wrote Meghan Jessiman in an excellent piece on the Calgary Herald site. "It sounds absurd, but the fact that I could actually find a sales associate at Nordstrom when I needed one and, beyond that, the lovely woman actually wanted to help me, automatically improved my shopping experience."
Canadians’ desire for the Nordstrom experience was evident at the launch of the chain’s first store in Calgary. More than 2,000 customers were lined up outside the store’s doors waiting for it to open.
The biggest challenge for Nordstrom going forward in Calgary will be staffing its stores. With many employed in well-paying jobs in the gas and oil-rich region, it can be difficult to find the right people for customer-facing positions. So far, however, that has not been a problem based on the Herald’s reporting.
Nordstrom, which plans to open five stores in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa in addition to Calgary, will join in the intensifying competition for luxury consumers in Canada. The chain will go up against Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue, another American import brought to Canada by Hudson’s Bay Company.
Nordstrom has learned one clear lesson from Target’s experience. Erik Nordstrom, who runs Nordstrom Direct, told CTV News, "What we heard mostly from customers here: ‘yeah, we’d be excited about Nordstrom here but it needs to be a great Nordstrom. Don’t bring us Nordstrom lite.’"
- Analysis: Canadian retailers working to match Nordstrom on service – Calgary Herald
- Nordstrom opens first store in Canada – The Seattle Times (tiered sub.)
- Retail competition in Canada heats up as Nordstrom expands – CTVNews.ca
- Nordstrom’s (JWN) Q2 2014 Results (Earnings Call Transcript) – SeekingAlpha (reg. required)
Will Nordstrom’s presence in Canada raise customer service levels among its competitors in that country? How is it that Nordstrom appears to achieve service excellence pretty much across the board when others serving similar customers do not?