YES I know that traditional retail stores have been having a hard time over the last several years as shoppers buying patterns have been changing. While we have seen many consumers, especially the younger crowd increase their spending online, the fact is that traditional retailers still win when it comes to ringing up sales. However, the chipping away at the retailers does take a toll and many stores have been working around the clock for ways to combat the changes.
WELL, here is one of the craziest things I have seen of a retailers brilliant idea to give itself relevance. Nordstrom in West Hollywood, California just opened and customers who stroll in will see tailors altering suits, stylists giving fashion tips and will be offered some wine or fresh squeezed juice while they wait for a manicure. All sounds like a wonderful spa-like experience, right? What the shoppers won’t be able to do is buy clothes that they can take home with them!
THIS is Nordstrom’s new tactic for a struggling business. They want to cut costs while keeping their shoppers interested so they are opening a store that will be like a page from an e-commerce website. The concept: Little or no merchandise will be stocked at the store! Come, pick out a lovely dress, place your order and leave empty-handed.
MY goodness, don’t they realize that the problems online apparel sellers had, and still have, is that customers want to try on the clothes first. Having a retail store with no merchandise is like the Emperor wearing no clothes. They want you to come in, browse around some catalog pictures and mannequins, spend your money and wait for the mailman to bring your goods. Sounds an awful lot like online shopping but with more work as you have to drive to the store, park and complete the transaction in person. I am devoting a good portion of our news column to this today because apparently the big influential retailers think this is the way to go. Wal-Mart is eyeing the idea of stores with no inventory as well and may be considering this for their future expansion. While it certainly streamlines things at the stores and massively cuts overhead it create absolutely no shopping experience for consumers and I have to say it looks like it will be a disaster all around.
BUT what do we small retailers know? Wal-Mart spent $310 million this summer to buy Bonobos, a “guideshop” pioneer. Stores filled with showroom pieces and samples you can order. They’ll be delivered to you later. Thanks for coming in to shop! Many of these companies are publicly held and Wall Street is not exactly embracing this type of unit. Perhaps that’s why Nordstrom was looking to take themselves private recently. Who knows, but what I do know is that this seems like a completely ridiculous idea. Maybe our small stores will do well by being so unique that someone can actually come in, buy something and take it home with them! Who’d have thought there’s hope after all.