I recently read an article about Nordstrom installing iPads in their dressing rooms to further enhance their already exceptional customer experience.
As we are finalizing our recent research: “Channel Integration in the Store,” any time I read about how a retailer has made great progress or tried new approaches on integrating their channels, I am immediately interested.
Nordstrom has always had one of the best approaches to customer service – even outside of the retail industry. They have now taken it to the next level by enriching their customer experience in the following ways:
• Customer Privacy – Let’s face it, sometimes we need to get in, find the “perfect” outfit or make sure the one we’ve been eyeing online fits and looks good, and get out. Maybe we’re not in the mood for a lot of associate interaction. Maybe we’re just not the type that even likes someone else helping us while we shop. Maybe we’re just not all that anxious to admit to the sales associate that we need the next larger size. (Although it seems the opposite sentiment exists for those people who feel the need to call out for the entire dressing room to hear: “Do you have the next smaller size.?”). Whatever the reasons, equipping customers with iPads in the privacy of their dressing room just edges the customer experience up another notch, giving the customer options on how much privacy they want in their shopping experience.
• More Product Options with Immediacy – A customer has found the perfect outfit, but would like to see more colors or sizes. The sales associate may not be immediately available, and if that customer is on a tight timeframe, the ability to quickly find out what color options or sizes are available is key to keeping that customer’s interest level up, increasing their satisfaction, and winning additional sales. This also alleviates the store staff from trying to be in many places at the same time – not that Nordstrom would use this as a crutch, but as shoppers become more comfortable with using the technology provided, it will be viewed as just another extension of the brand’s value proposition. Also, customers can actually see the different color options right there, rather than relying on a verbal description.
• Clearer Communication of Fulfillment Options – Most Nordstrom customers are familiar with the fact that the store associates can easily locate inventory across the brand’s stores and ship to the customer at no cost. It’s also great to be able to view what’s available in nearby Nordstrom stores in the comfort of our own home. But now those capabilities are put into the customer’s hands – again – while the customer’s interest level is still very high and they are ready to purchase. With today’s shopper attention continuously pulled in different directions, striking while the iron is hot is critical to landing the sale (read more about “Continuously Divided Attention” in our Cross Channel Retail Executive Summit blog entry).
• More Shopper-Friendly Interface and Reliable Connectivity – As great as they are, smartphone screens are small and sometimes hard to type on and maneuver. Even the best mobile apps are still often tough on the eyes and fingers. A tablet – in this case iPad – has a larger screen and is thus, much more shopper-friendly. The customer also doesn’t have to dig around for their phone, rely on their device’s connectivity, and hope the last red, blinking bar on their battery won’t die before they’re done shopping or researching. The store creates this exceptional omnichannel experience by removing all of those obstacles with the tablet application.
I have not personally used the Nordstrom dressing room iPad app (however, I will at my first chance.), but I’m guessing that they’re also showcasing complimentary items like they do on their website (“Complete the Look”). This is particularly helpful for people like me who have no time and were not graced with the fashion-sense gene (why they don’t make Garanimals for adults is beyond me). Target recently announced their “Awesome Shop,” which integrates top-pinned items on Pinterest with their internal customer reviews and sales to showcase hot trending items. This type of feature would be highly desirable in many instances, for example would help the customer decide that her pumps from five years ago probably do need replacing, and increases the basket size for the retailer.
All this showcases different ways in how retail channels are coming together to create a “brand” experience, as opposed to a channel experience. Anything that helps solidify the connection between a shopper and the brand will improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, and result in an overall better bottom line for the retailer. The Nordstrom example also showcases how the store is still the most relevant shopping channel, and the in-store and overall brand experience is highly capable of being enriched through digital means.