In April 2018, Nordstrom opened a brand new men’s store in Midtown Manhattan. The store opened prior to a larger women’s store across Broadway, which plans to open in Fall of 2019. Nordstrom initially planned to house all in the same unopened building, but they felt more confident with dedicating additional space which resulted this 47,000-square-foot annex dedicated to men’s.
While market expectations for the retail industry have been low, Nordstrom outperformed for some of the recent quarters. The brand new men’s store and forthcoming women’s store are, for Nordstrom, not only a gamble for stepping into New York City, which has been the biggest Nordstrom online market, but also for a brick and mortar retail renaissance.
Hybrid of High and Low
The store was filled with high-end brands such as COMME des GARÇONS, Balenciaga, Gucci but there were also more reasonably priced items from Vans, Adidas, and Samuelsohn. For example, each brand features uniquely designed display furniture and decor and
The furniture and decor weren’t only designed uniquely by their color and shape but the design was approachable. To me, it was a good contrast to Barneys New York at Chelsea where its furniture looks too expensive and overwhelming. There, the experience seems to revolve around its interior space and products seem secondary. On the other hand,
Extra Something for a Physical Store
The store also provides various services beyond purchasing. The first example is more immersive and tangible- clothing customizations. Customers can take a look and feel various fabric to choose from and can customize their own jeans or suites with a consultation by onsite stylists. If they need more visual guidance, there is also a screen that can show real size suits with fabrics of their choice. Fabrics are not only a portion to customize but there are samples of various suits garments. Seeing and feeling these detailed items provides great inspiration for one to put their dream suit together with expert advice. Once customization is done, there are 16 tailors stationed at the store to create more real-time experience. Seeing these tailors at stations itself is an exceptional experience that cannot be replaced with online shopping.
In Nordstrom, I felt their message of retaining customer relationships beyond one purchase. Tailors can also contribute to fixing clothes that customers already had. There is a shoe-shine station which serves shoe shining for $2.50 and sneaker cleaning for $4.50. Those prices seem to be reasonable considering the experience. For example, customers can spend time at the bar on the second floor or the cafe in the basement while tailors or shoe-shiners are taking care of your clothings.
There is also a drop-off station close to the entrance for customers to return items. Customers can order online and pick up at the store even in the middle of a night. During business hours, there is a dedicated pick up station. These may provide more retail opportunities for customers to stop by more to the store. All of these after-purchase services are hard to achieve in online retail with the equivalent experiences. For busier customers, Nordstrom also provides $20 same day delivery within Manhattan to compete against online retail.
Comparison to Japanese Retail Experiences
The experience of Nordstrom reminds me of how department stores are in Japan. One example is Isetan. Although the store is composed of a regular retail setup for normal shoppers to enjoy, its backbone is to cater
The other example is department stores for younger audiences in Japan. There are many brands such as Lumine, Marui, La Foret, and Parco. They have adopted the shopping mall business model from Japanese traditional department stores. These malls house multiple retail tenants to operate independently, but they curate and cycle tenants unlike being just real estate spaces. Nordstrom also has similarly curated and independently branded fixtures coexisting in the same space. At the same time, as this is a highly experimental space, the floor plan is designed to be extremely flexible. Starting only with mens’ area may be extremely risky in retail but the risk might have driven Nordstrom to challenge the unique and experimental experience.