Is this the future of retail? Nordstrom unveils merchandise-free store


US fashion specialty retailer Nordstrom has given a glimpse of what the future of retail could look like, unveiling a new retail concept this week that is free of merchandise.

The West Hollywood ‘Nordstrom Local’ concept store will be populated by personal stylists but no inventory. Instead, Nordstrom describes it as a “neighbourhood hub where customers can shop and access Nordstrom services”.

Customers will be able to order online and pick their items up in-store, while stylists will be on hand to offer fashion advice and transfer in merchandise as required. Onsite tailoring and alterations will also be on offer, along with manicure services.

Occupying a fraction of the footprint of a typical Nordstrom outlet, the store will comprise a styling suite and eight dressing rooms. Customers will be able to “sit comfortably, enjoy a glass of wine or beer, and chat with their personal stylists” in a central meeting space.

The success of the store, which is set to open next month, will no doubt be closely monitored by competitors and other retailers keen to crack the code of maintaining a sustainable balance between bricks-and-mortar presence and online sales growth.

It has been described by the retailer as a “brand new Nordstrom experience” and is clearly angled at customer engagement. As Quartz reports, the concept store will likely become a “valuable testing ground” for the retailer.

“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,” Shea Jensen, Nordstrom senior vice president of customer experience, commented.

“We know there are more and more demands on a customer’s time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs. Finding new ways to engage with customers on their terms is more important to us now than ever.”

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