You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Nordstrom Tries On a New Look: Stores Without Merchandise

The Wall Street Journal logo The Wall Street Journal 9/11/2017 Suzanne Kapner

Nordstrom is opening a new store next month that is a fraction of the size of its typical locations, where shoppers will be able to enjoy services such as manicures and on-site tailoring.

Something it won’t carry: clothes.

Called Nordstrom Local, the new concept comes as retailers across the U.S. are wrestling with how to best to use their physical spaces and attract customers who are migrating to the web. For department-store chains like Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp. and Sears Holdings Corp., one answer has been to shrink their footprint by closing stores or experimenting with smaller ones.

Get news and analysis on politics, policy, national security and more, delivered right to your inbox

Nordstrom, with roughly 121 full-line locations, continues to open traditional department stores, including one in Toronto this coming Friday. But it also recognizes that consumer habits are changing.

“There aren’t store customers or online customers—there are just customers who are more empowered than ever to shop on their terms,” said Erik Nordstrom, co-president of the retailer.

Nordstrom Local, scheduled to open Oct. 3 in West Hollywood, Calif., will span 3,000 square feet, far less than the 140,000 square feet of one of Nordstrom’s standard department stores.

It will contain eight dressing rooms, where shoppers can try on clothes and accessories, though the store won’t stock them. Instead, personal stylists will retrieve goods from nine Nordstrom locations in Los Angeles, or through its website. The stylists can also pull together looks for shoppers through a “style board” app.

“Shopping today may not always mean going to a store and looking at a vast amount of inventory,” said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s senior vice president of customer experience. “It can mean trusting an expert to pick out a selection of items.”

Related video: How to pick retail companies that will survive the meltdown

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

In addition to manicures, Nordstrom Local shoppers will be able to order wine, beer, coffee or juice from an in-store bar, and those who place orders on Nordstrom.com by 2 p.m. can pick them up there that day. They will also be able to return items at the store that they bought online or from other Nordstrom locations. Tailors will be available for alterations or to help members of Trunk Club, an online clothing service that Nordstrom acquired in 2014, select fabrics for custom garments.

Other retailers have experimented with inventory-free stores, including Bonobos, the men’s fashion brand bought by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over the summer. Stores such as Pirch, a purveyor of high-end home appliances and decorative plumbing, have taken the experiential route, inviting shoppers to bring bathing suits to test their $1,000 showerheads.

For the most part, however, the traditional retail store hasn’t changed much over the years. One hindrance, according to Doug Stephens, founder of the consulting firm Retail Prophet, is that Wall Street measures success by sales per square foot and other metrics that are becoming outdated in a world where shoppers still visit stores but increasingly make their purchases online.

“The economic model has to change,” Mr. Stephens said.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon