Planting New Ideas with Physical Storefronts

openCould you ever imagine walking into a store and seeing no products for sale? Nordstrom has decided to boggle minds with that exact method: they are planning to open two merchandise-free stores in the LA market, according to Co-president Blake Nordstrom in a transcript. After its successful launch with their first merchandise-free store in October, they saw an opportunity for growth and might also expand to other populated areas like Manhattan.

This may sound like a weird and crazy concept, but the store is tailored to online buying services where you pick up the products at the store. In addition to getting items fitted, they will also offer stylist consulting and even nail services. The two last items are just extra-added services, but this could be the start of something new for e-commerce only retailers.pablo219

Making an online return is already hard enough as it is, and can cost the retailer unnecessary bucks if they offer free returns or exchanges, especially since one in three online purchases is returned. An easy way to avoid this conflict, and to ensure the customer is happy with the end result, is by having them pick up their online purchases in store. There can be a staff member available to offer an exchange if the product isn’t what the customer was looking for, or they just need a different size for an apparel item. Rather than going to a store to try an item on, many consumers will buy multiple pairs of a garment, try them on to see which fits best, and then return the rest. To avoid this mess of returns, having an in-store presence will give the customer the opportunity to just exchange the one item for a different size.

Having an in-store presence can also help make a personalized experience between you and the customer. Purchasing products online can create a huge gap between the business and the consumer, and by having a staff member physically there to talk to, it helps bridge that gap and makes the shopping experience a personal one. A friendly face can go a long way.

pablo218At the Shoptalk conference in March, Shea Jensen, SVP of customer experience at Nordstrom, talked about how she had been seeing success with the first store early on. They were hoping to bring some of the most popular or highly demanded services closer to their customers, right in their neighborhood, so they can access their people at a time that worked best for them. After showing a positive outcome, they have decided to open two more stores in the same area.

By having a local store closer to the people it serves, it’s much easier to communicate with customers and engage them. Many e-commerce giants like Nordstrom and Amazon are planting themselves in a physical store to better adapt to their customers’ needs, and following suit can help independent online retailers attract more customers as well as be a friendly face to existing ones.