Will 24/7 curbside service help Nordstrom pick up late Christmas sales?

Photo: Nordstrom
Nov 09, 2017

Nordstrom is looking to give Santa (aka its customers) a little help as Christmas approaches by offering 24/7 curbside pickup at 10 stores across the country beginning on Dec. 16 and continuing through Christmas Eve morning.

While the department store chain already offers in-store and curbside pickup at its stores, the pilot is intended to give its customers more flexibility as time pressures mount. With 24/7 access, customers can pick up purchases during their early morning commute or perhaps after the little ones are in bed for the night.

“I think more than any other time of the year, the traditional store hours may not fit into our customer’s lifestyle,” Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s senior vice president of customer experience, told USA Today. “And so if we can find ways to lighten their load a bit during the busy season, we’re happy to do that.”

Customers placing online orders that want to use curbside service receive an email confirmation indicating the location outside the store where they can pick up their purchases. To complete the pickup, they send a text to a phone number given by the store at least 10 minutes in advance of their arrival. Sending a text with the word “gift” will get them a free gift-wrapping kit. When customers arrive, they will be greeted outside by a Nordstrom associate who will complete the transaction by checking their photo ID and card used to make the transaction before handing over the item(s) purchased.

Nordstrom has used services such as in-store and curbside pickup to drive online sales, which the company expects to exceed 25 percent of its total by the end of the year. During its second quarter earnings call in August, Blake Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom, Inc., told analysts that online revenues grew more than 20 percent year-over-year during its annual anniversary sales event. Buy online and pickup sales for the promotion increased around 50 percent.

The following are the stores participating in Nordstrom’s 24/7 curbside pickup pilot:

  • South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, CA)
  • Fashion Valley (San Diego, CA)
  • Valley Fair (San Jose, CA)
  • Michigan Avenue (Chicago, IL)
  • Oakbrook Center (Oak Brook, IL)
  • The Westchester (White Plains, NY)
  • NorthPark Center (Dallas, TX)
  • Tysons Corner Center (Mclean, VA)
  • Downtown Seattle (Seattle, WA)
  • Bellevue Square (Bellevue, WA)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see extended hours for curbside pickup as being a service that Nordstrom customers will use and appreciate? What other services to make life easier for customers during the holidays do you think will move the needle for retailers this Christmas season?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"This fits right into the Nordstrom image. Providing great customer service. However, I doubt if they need to be accessible 24/7."
"Customers can securely pick up higher priced items that they may not feel comfortable having left on their porch while out at work during the day."
"So for Christmas, Nordstrom is a drive-up warehouse. Sorry I don’t get it. This isn’t about experience, this is about being just like Amazon."

Join the Discussion!

19 Comments on "Will 24/7 curbside service help Nordstrom pick up late Christmas sales?"

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Dick Seesel

Curbside pickup may not drive in-store traffic like BOPIS but it is a convenience that should be successful for Nordstrom. The only open question is whether the incremental sales justify the added expense of 24/7 staffing, even on a limited basis like this. If the numbers work, expect to see this program at a lot more Nordstrom stores next year, including more urban locations like Michigan Avenue with plenty of walk-up traffic at all hours.

Shep Hyken

Nordstrom does it again with another customer-focused concept. Short of having the merchandise delivered to your front door, this is brilliant. The extended business hours to 24/7 is what makes this stand out. For customers to use and appreciate this service, they need to be aware that it’s available. That will be the challenge to making the extended hours of curbside pickup program a success.

Neil Saunders

This kind of flexibility is appreciated by consumers, especially during the busy holiday season.

Will it win Nordstrom trade? Sure, it may be enough to persuade some to buy from Nordstrom rather than elsewhere — though the overall impact will be small, it is still helpful.

The cost of running the operation could be offset by the savings from having to deliver if more shoppers switch to BOPIS from home delivery.

Charles Dimov

Customers are demanding this type of service and finally retailers like Nordstrom are listening. Specific to North America, there is a huge opportunity for in-store pickup, curbside pickup and other omnichannel services. Consumers are busier than ever, and last-minute Christmas shopping is never going away. Nordstrom is doing the right thing by giving their shoppers choice and flexibility. Work into your customers schedule — it’s the trick to building loyalty. Today only 29.1 percent of retailers offer in-store pickup or any form of omnichannel services (OrderDynamics, Oct 2017). Being early with this will engender loyalty (customers know they can count on your brand at the last minute), and will grow your top-line sales revenue. What’s not to love?

Ken Lonyai

Every added convenience offered to customers is a positive in enhancing customer experience, but at what price? Right now there is an undercurrent of “oh yeah Amazon, we’ll show you … ” where every CX idea (it seems) is getting its day in the sun. However, each has a cost.

24/7 curbside pickup has some benefit for brand awareness/building, but my expectation is that in the overnight hours this service will get little usage and that when the true operational costs are factored in, there won’t be any revenue benefit. And there lies the problem with throwing anything against the wall and taking potshots against Amazon and other competitors. The only way to succeed without self-cannibalization of physical retail is to understand what customers need/want most and build on that consistently and continually, not with in-the-moment gimmicks.

Lee Kent

This fits right into the Nordstrom image. Providing great customer service. However, I doubt if they need to be accessible 24/7. Time and money will tell. Kudos to Nordstrom and my 2 cents.

Lee Peterson

Every study we’ve done about digital retail integration places BOPIS as the number one element customers want to see from retailers. It is always stunning to me, but this is the age of the customer, so why fight it? And of course, they want to pull up and have it put in their trunks. So depending on execution (of course), this should be a big plus for Nordstrom.

Another element that would help would be same-day delivery. Even if it were only tested and/or not immediately profitable, the positive buzz and brand perception hit would be worth it. Uber it over, no matter, the customer would be incredibly grateful this time of year and start rolling out the best marketing tool ever: word of mouth.

Jackie Breen

Retailers that offer “convenience experiences” will win in the holiday season. For retailers like Nordstrom that mainly have locations inside a mall, it can be a hassle to “quickly” run in and out. The increased availability of curbside pickup can help alleviate that hurdle.

I’m not sure the “24/7” aspect is critical to its success, but extended hours are a must during the holiday season. I’ll be curious to see how the cost of running this operation compares to the sales boost it experiences.

Assuming the offering is effectively marketed, this could prove to be very beneficial for Nordstrom this holiday season.

Benjamin Grabow
5 years 2 months ago

Anything that allows an online consumer to carry on with their normal routine nowadays is definitely going to have long-lasting benefits in terms of new customer acquisition and strengthening customer loyalty. To Dick Seesel’s point, I think it would be great if they roll out this 24/7 pilot to more stores after the holiday season. Does anyone know how many Nordstrom employees need to be present at each individual store for the curbside pickup initiative?

Todd Trombley

Big props to Nordstrom for providing this service. It fits right in with their brand premise. It certainly will appeal to their customer base. It may not be cash positive on a per-transaction basis but when looked at as being accretive to their customers’ loyalty to Nordstrom it makes sense.

How about going the next mile and offering free or low-cost delivery on certain transactions during the holidays season? They would have to be very selective in offering this perk or they could lose their shirts, but the positive press on this alone would probably render it a net win for them.

Stuart Jackson

On the face of it, this curbside service sounds great. It’s just the kind of add-on that customers want. We all know that convenience is king and stores are falling over themselves to offer it. But there’s a trap here too, I think. By becoming more convenient there’s a danger that the physical stores just become “online-lite;” a glorified warehouse handing packages to people at the door.

Stores have to value the in-store experience too. They need to play to their strengths and remember that the majority of their loyal customers want to browse in a physical store; they want that unique, intimate experience. So yes, build in convenience but hopefully Nordstrom won’t forget their essence.

Ed Rosenbaum

Nordstrom knows customer service and are now adding another link to their chain. One thing I have not seen mentioned is the inconvenience of trying to find a parking place in a crowded lot during the holiday season. This is eliminated by the curbside pickup. Kudos to Nordstrom for again thinking about their customers’ convenience.

Cate Trotter

This is a great idea, but 24/7 might go a bit too far. How many customers will actually be picking up things at 3.20 am? (I’d love to see the data after!) I think the idea is a real solid way of providing an extra level of service and convenience to customers when they may be at their most busy (and out of the house more so unable to take deliveries). Extended hours, rather than 24 hour availability, would probably be enough though.

Craig Sundstrom

Worth a try, I guess, though I’m curious how well it will work with the several downtown locations listed. (That they aren’t trying it in the San Francisco Centre and Portland locations makes me think that center city access might be a concern.)

Molly Nichols

This definitely eases customers’ last minute shopping stress. It does not get shoppers in the store, but it does get more shoppers turning to Nordstrom in a pinch rather than other retailers that don’t offer this service.

Cristian Grossmann

Curbside pickup could be an excellent way to ensure that Nordstrom customers can securely pick up higher priced items that they may not feel comfortable having left on their porch while out at work during the day. With that said, managing a 24/7 dispersed workforce does require a lot of coordination. Oftentimes, holiday teams are comprised of temporary staffers and will need extra communication to keep things running smoothly. Using real-time messaging and mobile communication tools is a great way to keep holiday team members on track and keep customers happy since operations can run more smoothly.

Bob Phibbs

So for Christmas, Nordstrom is a drive-up warehouse. Sorry I don’t get it. This isn’t about experience, this is about being just like Amazon.

Ricardo Belmar
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
5 years 2 months ago

I think Nordstrom will see more benefit out of the PR for this 24/7 curbside pickup service than they will in practice. How many people do they expect to show up at these stores at 3:30 am? Enough to cover the costs of staffing for this? I’m not so sure. However, it certainly does speak well of them in delivering yet another customer focused, convenience service. “Convenience” for shoppers has been the hot topic as we move into the holiday shopping season this year and this is a great example of Nordstrom showing other retailers how to be more like Nordstsrom!

Jim Rogers
5 years 2 months ago

Nordstrom’s third quarter revenues increased 2% to $3.5 billion while comp-store sales was down 0.9%. Hurricane impact came in at about approximately $20 million. Digital strategy seems to be paying where YTD online sales improved 14% at Nordstrom.com and 26% at Nordstromrack.com/HauteLook. There are rumors that Nordstrom family members might take the retailer private after the holiday season. Will they take it private? Here are 3Q results highlights….

"This fits right into the Nordstrom image. Providing great customer service. However, I doubt if they need to be accessible 24/7."
"Customers can securely pick up higher priced items that they may not feel comfortable having left on their porch while out at work during the day."
"So for Christmas, Nordstrom is a drive-up warehouse. Sorry I don’t get it. This isn’t about experience, this is about being just like Amazon."

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