THE INC. LIFE

Is This New Store Concept The Future — Or A Sign Of How Desperate Retailers Have Become?

The future of retail comes down to creating unique experiences you can’t get online — and Nordstrom may have found the recipe.

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BY Peter Gasca - 12 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Many industry experts (and me) have long speculated that the standard model of retail is dying.

If the vacant store fronts are not evidence enough, consider that over the past year, we have seen the slow creep of closures of many of the oldest and dearest retailers. Macy's has closed over 100 stores nationwide, JCPenny closed 140 stores, and the stalwart Sears/Kmart has closed over 250 stores.

In fact, according to real estate research firm Green Street Advisors, roughly 800 department stores, or about 20 percent of all "anchor" retail space in U.S. shopping malls, may have to close just to achieve the same profitability level as a decade ago.

So how do retailers stay relevant and compete -- or simply survive?

The answer is simple: create experiences that shoppers can only get in person.

Retailer Nordstrom is on board, announcing this week that the company is trying a new store concept called "Nordstrom Local."

In addition to be considerably smaller -- 3,000 SF compared to the typical 140,000 SF stores -- it also has another very unique aspect for a clothing merchandise retailer.

It has no clothing merchandise.

Instead, the store is meant to be a "neighborhood hub," providing a space where customers can congregate and enjoy a host of other unique services, including:

  • Free consultations with personal stylists
  • Onsite tailoring and alterations
  • Refreshments, including beer, wine, cold-pressed juice or espresso
  • Manicures

According to Erik Nordstrom, Co-President of Nordstrom, "There are not store customers or online customers. There are just customers who are more empowered than ever to shop on their terms."

Shea Jensen, Nordstrom senior vice president of customer experience and who has led the Nordstrom Local initiative, adds, "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."

So what do you think? Is this enough to get you out to the stores?

We will just have to wait and see -- and most of us will have to wait to even try. The first and currently only planned opening of these concept stores is set for October 3, 2017 in Los Angeles.