Reimagining Main Street at NRF 2014 – The Panel

Earlier we covered Rick Caruso’s individual portion of the session Reimagining Main Street – How Brick and Mortar Retail will Thrive in the 21st Century during day one of NRF’s Big Show. In this post we take a deep dive into the major themes and trends discussed during the panel that followed.


Moderated by CNBC Power Lunch Co-Anchor Sue Herera, the panel featured Rick Caruso, Founder and CEO of Caruso Affiliated, fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, Sprinkles Cupcakes founder and pastry chef Candace Nelson, and Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, Inc.

The panel began by emphasizing the notion that brick and mortar retail needs to be as close as they can with the consumer and should always strive to be relevant. While it is harder to evolve in-store retail practices when compared to online, the onus is on them to remain in lock step with their customers.

Candace Nelson noted that she is always trying to find new ways to wow the customer and it was that drive that led to their new curbside delivery service. She mentioned busy moms who are running errands might not have time to make it into the physical store and that the new delivery service gave them away to deliver their product and still engage the consumer. According to Nelson, “we want the customer to feel pampered and cared for in that short transaction time.”


Rick Caruso talked to this shift from getting the customer in and out of the store as fast as possible to one that invites them to stay as long as they want. The key is to give them reasons to come to the store even if there is nothing they want to buy. “If you do that, then that is where they will want to shop,” said Caruso. “It puts them in a happy spot and if they are happy then they are more likely to buy things.”

He mentioned that if a retailer is aimed specifically at women, they should incorporate elements of their store experience that engage the husband and kids as well. If the experience of shopping is more about a child wanting to go ride the train set that is in a store and not just a stop on a checklist of things to do, the transactions will follow suit.

Rebecca Minkoff described the ivory tower that designers used to be locked in, apart from their customers and fans. Through the advent of social media and more dynamic store designs, she is now able to interact with her customers in ways she never imagined. She spoke specifically about trunk shows she holds in various retail stores that allow her to share her products with her customers, but more importantly, create unique relationships with them.


Looking to the future, Blake Nordstrom brought up the great point that creating unique stores that cultivate customer experiences are difficult to pull off and require hard work across a number of different areas. While many stores are serving as poster children, there are countless others that have yet to catch up. Fortunately the silver lining, according to Nordstrom, is that “the seeds are being planted today for retailers to be able to create this experience in five years.”

The main theme all four panelists agreed upon at the end of the session is that you have to make the shopping experience interesting and customized to the consumer. Do not get caught up in the quick transaction, if you create a space that they want to keep coming back to, the transactions will follow.

Nordstrom Shopper Marketing

Nordstrom Can Now See How Their Customers Are Moving In Their Stores Thanks to Smart Phones

In an effort to better serve their customer base, Nordstrom has begun tracking shopper movement in their namesake and Nordstrom Rack stores. According to CBS, the company is using cell phone data to track how much time customers spend within the store, and in which departments.

Nordstrom Shopper Marketing

They began tracking data in October, but so far have yet to make any changes to store layouts as a result.

From the article:

A company spokesperson says sensors within the store collect information from customer smart phones as they attempt to connect to Wi-Fi service. The sensors can monitor which departments you visit and how much time you spend there. However, the sensors do not follow your phone from department to department, nor can they identify any personal information tied to the phone’s owner, says spokesperson Tara Darrow.

“This is literally measuring a signal. You are not connected to the signal,” says Darrow.

The store calls the information “anonymous aggregate reports that give us a better sense of customer foot traffic” and will ultimately be used to increase the shopping experience for Nordstrom customers. Darrow says the company could use the information to increase staffing during certain high-traffic times or change the layout of a department.

Nordstrom October Sales, Retail Localization

Department stores strong in October, led by Nordstrom

As the holidays approach and retailers are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, October same-store sales results showcased consistent strength in the department store category.

Nordstrom October Sales, Retail Localization

Nordstrom led the pack with a 9.8% rise in same-store sales for the month, and Macy’s Inc. had a solid showing as well.

“Business was strong in October,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s, Inc. “The key growth strategies we put in place three years ago continue to provide us new opportunities for continuous improvement in driving sales. We are feeling confident about our prospects for the upcoming holiday season and have increased our sales guidance for the fall season, despite the interruption caused by Hurricane Sandy in the first few days of the fourth quarter.”

Macy’s reported a 4.1% same-store sales rise in October and posted total sales of $1.908 billion for the four weeks ended Oct. 27, an increase of 3.6% compared with $1.842 billion in the prior-year period.
Macy’s said it is raising its guidance for same-store sales growth in the second half of 2012 to approximately 4% (an increase from previous guidance of up approximately 3.7%).

Harris Poll, Nordstrom, Retail Localization

Harris survey ranks Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Target and Walgreens highest in their categories

Kohl’s, Nordstrom and Target ranked first in their categories in a new survey by Harris Interactive The 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend (EQ) study surveyed Americans about brands across several retail segments, revealing which brands prompted them to open their hearts—and consequently—their pocketbooks.

Harris Poll, Nordstrom, Retail Localization

While all brands in the department store category dropped in 2012, Kohl’s came out on top as the Department Store Brand of the Year. Kohl’s edged out J.C. Penney in 2009 and has maintained its lead in the rankings ever since. Kohl’s shows the highest overall brand equity score, carried by a strong performance in purchase consideration.

Nordstrom led the ratings in a new category and was named Luxury Department Store Brand of the Year. Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, included in the study for the first time, placed second and third respectively in the luxury ratings.

In the value retailer category, Target was the Value Retail Brand of the Year, surpassing Walmart. While this is just the second year of this award category, in 2007 Target supplanted Walmart in overall retailer rankings, and has maintained its lead ever since. Top scores for all three elements of brand equity – Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Intention – drove this strong performance.

[via Chain Store Age]

Nordstrom, E-Commerce, Retail Localization

Nordstrom to spend $1B to grow e-commerce

Nordstrom, E-Commerce, Retail Localization

Nordstrom’s online sales are exploding, and the company is investing $1 billion over the next five years to support its e-commerce infrastructure, according to a story on

Nordstrom will add about 400 e-commerce employees to its direct business and flash-sale retailer HauteLook. Nordstrom CFO Michael Koppel told Wall Street analysts that sales for HauteLook grew nearly 60 percent for the year ended January 28. Direct sales increased about 30 percent, while total sales increased 12.8 percent to $10.50 billion from $9.31 billion in 2010.

Same-store sales grew 7.2 percent year on year. Direct sales accounted for about 8.7 percent of total sales compared with 7.6 percent in 2010. In the last quarter, direct sales increased about 35 percent.

“In 2012, we plan to spend over $140 million in e-commerce, representing approximately 30 percent of our capital expenditures, compared to a spend of almost $100 million or approximately 20 percent last year,” Koppel told analysts on the company’s recent year-end earnings call.


Nordstrom Point of Sale Technology, Retail Localization

Nordstrom Expands Mobile POS Functionality in Chain-wide Deployment

Nordstrom Point of Sale Technology, Retail Localization

Nordstrom has implemented mobile POS devices in all full-line stores and will continue to expand the functionality of those devices. Three quarters of traditional fixed POS capabilities can now be done on the mobile devices, helping to provide a better customer experience in terms of personalization and speed.

“We’ve got a number of different initiatives to improve the service we’re giving through mobile devices both in our stores and outside the store,” said Nordstrom EVP James Nordstrom, during a recent conference call. “We’re improving the speed and quality at which we can get merchandise to customers. A lot of tools and, frankly, the talent we need to be able to improve the service we’re giving through our online efforts are some of the things we’re investing in this year.”

The company continues to maintain focus on e-commerce and mobility, and with initiatives like free shipping, online shopping has improved greatly. Average order size, units per order, and cross-shopping across the website are also on the rise.

Overall, Nordstrom customers are spending more time in stores while the company broadens the customer experience with consistency across channels. A growing brand selection has proven beneficial, with top performers like handbags, designer and cosmetics.

[via RIS News]