The retail giant Nordstrom plans on opening a new concept store in West Hollywood, California, that differs from its other stores in at least one fundamental way: it will not stock any clothes.
Instead, Nordstrom Local will focus on the human elements of the shopping experience: customers will receive free consultations with personal stylists, who will have recommended merchandise brought to the store; an in-house tailor can alter clothes to the client’s specifications; and even though no one asked for it, customers can get one of eight manicure services to “help…complete the perfect look,” according to a Nordstrom press release.
The store represents Nordstrom’s efforts to adjust to a shifting retail ecosystem. Similar chains like Macy’s and JC Penny’s have suffered from plummeting sales, resulting in layoffs and store closures. The downturn largely stems from competition with online businesses like Amazon.
“As the retail landscape continues to transform at an unprecedented pace, the one thing we know that remains constant is that customers continue to value great service, speed and convenience,” said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom senior vice president of customer experience, who is in charge of the Nordstrom Local project.
Uniquely, though, Nordstrom has weathered the changes better than most. Driven by robust online sales, the company reported last month a 3.5 percent rise in sales from a year ago, according to CNBC.
Seen in light of their strong online performance, Norstrom seems to be playing to the relative strengths of online and in-person retail. “Shopping today may not always mean going to a store and looking at a vast amount of inventory,” Jensen told The Wall Street Journal. “It can mean trusting an expert to pick out a selection of items.”
While online shopping maximizes the convenience of viewing large amounts of merchandise, it can leave shoppers feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. In theory, Nordstrom Local will provide customers the assurance of expert advice (along with the comforts of California-sourced wine, beer, espresso drinks, and cold-pressed juice).