Nordstrom is no stranger to providing superior customer experiences (CX). At 117 years old, the retailer has survived thanks to a customer-centric philosophy and adaptable mindset. Nordstrom is renowned for its excellent customer service and savvy associates. The retailer famously only listed one rule in its employee handbook – “use your best judgement in all situations” – though that rule is now joined by others.
Nordstrom has also proven to be a leader in innovation. From its inventory-free Nordstrom Local retail hubs to its new menswear-only Manhattan store, the company shows an admirable commitment to creating exciting experiences for customers. Not to mention, a willingness to take risks and redefine what retail looks like.
Not everyone boasts the same market share as Nordstrom, but there are universal lessons to learn from the retailer:
1. Prioritize CX to drive sales. The Nordstrom Local and menswear-only locations highlight a strategic focus on the customer above all else by offering them unique in-store experiences.
Nordstrom Local stores allow customers to pick up or return online purchases, but offer far more than just transactional benefits. Shoppers can get a mani-pedi while they wait for items, have clothing tailored by in-store seamstresses or consult with Trunk Club stylists on their wardrobe choices.
These are all obviously revenue-drivers for Nordstrom, but they also show a commitment to crafting exciting in-store experiences that go beyond merely getting inventory out the door. If Nordstrom shoppers feel valuable and cared for at Nordstrom Local locations, they’re more likely to shop with the retailer – whether online or in-store.
2. Take calculated risks. A decade ago, a Nordstrom location without inventory might have seemed bizarre. A clothing store without clothes? Who’d go there? To an outsider, the choice might seem like an absurd risk for Nordstrom to take. And any out-of-the-box tactic – like an inventory-free retail location – is risky. But Nordstrom wasn’t innovating for innovation sake.
Rather, the retailer understood its strengths and looked for new ways to capitalize on them, in an age where competition is fiercer than ever. Nordstrom shoppers can go anywhere to purchase clothing – but they choose Nordstrom for its exclusive offerings, VIP treatment by attentive sales associates and superior customer service. The Nordstrom Local locations offer this in a different way – while also providing the convenience customers crave in the age of Amazon.
Additionally, Nordstrom tested this concept out with one initial location in Los Angeles. If it ended up a dud, it would be easy to shutter without much loss – but now that it’s proven successful, they’re expanding into other cities.
Too many retailers take uncalled-for risks in an effort to play catch up with leaders who have taken smarter and bolder moves. It’s critical to understand your own strengths and leverage them in new, exciting ways that fit your business.
3. Listen to your customers. So how do you get a firm handle on the strengths that attract customers to your brand? You ask. To truly be customer-centric, you need to be keyed in on what they love (and hate) about your brand experience – and you can’t do that with guesswork. Ask your customers what they’re thinking so you can take calculated risks to elevate your CX to the next level.
Whether at the point-of-sale or via follow-up emails, check in with your customers across any channel in which they interact with your brand. Make it easy for them to respond by asking simple questions: How was your shopping experience today? Why did you abandon your cart? Did you receive your product in a timely manner? Even simple questions can illuminate where you can improve.
Listening to your customers is the only way you can bring about meaningful change. Fortunately, customers are open to providing feedback. Usabilla’s latest report revealed that 37 percent prefer to offer their opinion via email after a purchase and 19 percent prefer to immediately do so after the point-of-sale. Since your customers are an open book, there’s no excuse to ignore them. Once you start to listen, you can gain the right insights to help propel you to Nordstrom’s ranks.