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Nordstrom’s Newest Location Nixes Merchandise for Manis

Nordstrom is clearing the racks in an effort to make more sales.

With all the talk about making stores more experiential, what they’ve really become is much more experimental in an effort to woo shoppers who have lost enthusiasm for traditional retail. New formats, fresh product assortments and revised pricing models are just some of the ways department stores, in particular, are trying to stay relevant.

Macy’s is ramping up Backstage, its in-store off-price concept. J.C. Penney continues to expand its appliance showrooms and is even testing B2B sales with its new business focused on the hospitality market. Even Sears is zeroing in on key categories with the launch of its Appliance and Mattress store.

[Read more about store strategies for the balance of the year: Speed, Exclusivity & Fashion Lead Department Store Goals for Second Half]

Thus far, Nordstrom’s strategy has been pretty straightforward: fill the racks with exclusive product shoppers can’t find—or price shop—anywhere else. Well, now it’s going in a whole new direction.

The Seattle-based retail chain is adding a new location that can only loosely be called a store given that it will not stock any apparel. For those who find shopping too much of a chore—or a bore—the company is opening its first Nordstrom Local outpost in West Hollywood, California, next month. The location will be a destination for consumers to find services like manicures and tailoring and a place where they can pick up and return online orders. Shoppers will also be able to meet with personal stylists, who will pull looks for them from area Nordstrom stores and its site. They can try the stylists’ finds there while enjoying a cocktail in a comfortable environment. From there, the interaction can continue through Style Board, the retailer’s digital styling app.

“We know there are more and more demands on a customer’s time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs,” said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom senior vice president of customer experience. “Finding new ways to engage with customers on their terms is more important to us now than ever.” 

With no clothes on offer, Nordstrom Local will be only 3,000 square feet, compared to 140,000 square feet in a typical Nordstrom location.

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With overstored fleets and supersized locations, the majors have been actively looking for ways to do more business with less space. Kohl’s, for instance, is shrinking its floor space in existing footprints, reducing inventory by 10 percent with no hit to productivity. With this new concept, Nordstrom becomes the latest to question if—in the age of online shopping—less really is more.