Nordstrom’s New York takeover is in full swing.
The Seattle-based department store chain today debuted its first Nordstrom Local space in Manhattan — located in the city’s Upper East Side neighborhood — as part of the company’s larger effort to stake its claim as a leading retail destination in the United States’ most populous city.
The retailer already has two Nordstrom Rack outposts in Manhattan and made a big splash in April 2018 when it feted its first-ever Manhattan men’s store. The rollout of its full-line stores in the area will culminate with the opening of the women’s flagship on Oct. 24.
However, its Local concept — there are three other locations throughout Los Angeles — sees the company place a heightened emphasis on its convenience and service-oriented business model. (Among the notable features of the Nordstrom Local “stores” is that they don’t stock a significant volume of inventory and instead focus on services like in-store pickup for online orders.)
“Nordstrom Local is a neighborhood service hub,” explained Shea Jensen, SVP of customer experience, of the concept that rolled out in fall 2017. “It’s about bringing the convenience of our most popular and highly demanded services closer to the customers and right in the neighborhoods where they live and work and hopefully where they choose to shop for fashion.”
Jensen said the department store has taken key learnings from its three California locations and combined those with data from New York consumers in order to build out the unique features of its first New York Local store. A second hub — in the city’s West Village neighborhood — is slated to open on Sept. 27.
“[With our L.A. stores] we learned, first, that the most popular services are online order pickup, alterations and tailoring, and fast and easy online returns — so you’ll see all of those things at the forefront of this [East Village] location,” Jensen said. “We’ve also heard from New Yorkers — and particularly from customers on the Upper East Side — that there are a lot of young families that live here and that in New York, in particular, closet space is a high commodity.”
For those reasons, said Jensen, the Upper East Side location is offering stroller cleaning in partnership with Tot Squad as well as fashion donation dropoffs in partnership with Housing Works to help customers with closet cleaning.
“We offer donation bags — they can take those bags home, fill them and come back,” she said. “We offer great services, like styling, that will hopefully help them fill their closets [back up].”
Other unique features of the space include a gift-wrapping table — where customers can wrap the items themselves — as well as a children’s play and coloring area and a coffee counter that also serves pressed juices and kids’ drinks.
Long considered a pioneer in forward-thinking retail customer service, Nordstrom was among the first retailers — amid digital disruption and the so-called retail apocalypse that peaked around 2017 — to reenvision stores as more experiential and service-driven spaces.
However, more recently, experiential concepts and smaller-format spaces — like Nordstrom Local — have caught on across the industry, which could create heightened competition for the department store.
“For us, competition is great,” Jensen said. “We learn a lot by watching the competition and talking with them. What’s true is that the landscape is changing, and everybody is trying to compete for customer time and attention. But we’re trying to remain focused on the customer and be available where, when and how they want to shop with us.”
Nordstrom Local’s Upper East Side store is located at 1273 3rd Ave. and is around 1,800 square feet. The 2,200-square-foot West Village location — which will offer a rotating selection of products from Pop-In by Olivia Kim — sits at 13 7th Ave.
Both hubs will serve as a community meeting location for networking and family-driven events.