Nordstrom to roll out small, Nordstrom Local shops with no inventory

Nordstrom to roll out small, Nordstrom Local shops with no inventory

Nordstrom is trying something different: stores without inventory.

The department store chain announced on Monday that it’s preparing to roll out a new line of stores, called Nordstrom Local.

The first of its kind is set to open in West Hollywood, California, on Oct. 3. The stores will be 3,000 square feet, instead of a typical Nordstrom box size of 140,000 square feet.

Here’s the kicker: Nordstrom Local will have eight dressing rooms where shoppers may try on clothes, but stores won’t actually keep inventory for purchase in stock. Instead, Nordstrom will be pulling merchandise from other mall-anchored stores and from its website.

“Shopping today may not always mean going to a store and looking at a vast amount of inventory,” Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s senior vice president of customer experience, said in prepared remarks. “It can mean trusting an expert to pick out a selection of items.”

Personal stylists will be doing most of the work at Nordstrom Local, curating outfits for shoppers and trying to ease the stress many face of finding the perfect look.

Nordstrom Local shops will also have “bars” in stores, where thirsty shoppers can order juices or wine, the company said.

Other experiences at Nordstrom Local locations will include manicures and on-site tailoring. Nordstrom’s “Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store” service will also be available. Same-day delivery will be an option for shoppers who visit Nordstrom Local and select items before 2 p.m., the company explained.

Slimming down in size has certainly been a big trend in the world of retail of late. Sears, for example, earlier this year announced its smaller-format store concept, which will only sell appliances and mattresses.

Target offers another example of a big-box retailer rolling out smaller locations throughout the U.S., mainly in urban hubs.

And traditionally e-retailers like Bonobos, Warby Parker and Rent The Runway have started opening up physical “showrooms” for shoppers to try on product, but not at the expense of the companies having to hold excessive inventory in stores.

As far as department store chains go, Nordstrom is often considered by analysts to be the best of its class, setting the pace for the rest of the industry. During the second quarter, Nordstrom posted same-store sales growth of 1.7 percent, easily outpacing Street expectations.

“It remains clear to us that Nordstrom is on a much better trajectory than most other players in the department store segment,” GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said at the time.

While Nordstrom is still opening a slew of typical-size, mall-anchor stores, its latest strategy to move toward smaller locations shows how the company is battling retail headwinds.

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