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With or Without Ivanka Trump, Nordstrom Still Consumers’ Favorite

Ivanka Trump ruckus or not, Nordstrom is still U.S. consumers’ favorite retailer.

For the fifth time in a row, consumers surveyed in Market Force Information’s annual retail sector study ranked Nordstrom above all when it comes to fashion retail.

Service ranked second as the biggest influencer to purchasing after value, and Nordstrom has run its business on providing superior service. As a result, consumers said Nordstrom delivers the best experience, and loyalty is highest among the luxury retailer’s shoppers.

What’s Nordstrom doing right?

For one, according to the study, Nordstrom’s sales associates assist customers more often than most other major retailers, and that has been key.

“Sales associates are the front-line representatives for retailers, and how they engage with customers can make or break the shopping experience and impact sales,” Market Force chief strategy officer Cheryl Flink said. The study showed that 90 percent of customers who got help from a sales associate bought something, compared to 82 percent of those that didn’t get help. “That 8 percent difference in conversion rate is a key reason why fashion retailers need to invest in their sales staff.”

Nordstrom fell in a quadrant nearly all its own when it came to overall shopper satisfaction and loyalty. TJ Maxx, Kohl’s and Dillard’s were the only other retailers relatively near to Nordstrom in those rankings. Many brands are actually losing ground in terms of loyalty—like American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Lane Bryant and Macy’s—as consumers grow increasingly disappointed in their offerings.

How are brick-and-mortar businesses faring in general?

Consumers are still shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, they’re just not getting what they want when they go there. Nearly 80 percent of consumers surveyed said they shopped in a physical store in the last 90 days, and of those who had, nearly one-fifth said they’d visited a store six times or more.

The problem is, nearly one in five consumers said they were dissatisfied with their most recent shopping experience and that they would not recommend that retailer to a friend or family member.

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“It’s not OK just to be OK,” Market Force said, pointing to the finding that customers who are “delighted” with their shopping experience are two times more likely to recommend a retailer than those who are just “satisfied.”

What about e-commerce?

Forty-two percent of consumers said they shopped their favorite retailer’s website in the last 90 days, and 68 percent of those said they bought something. Clothing took up the lion’s share of their purchases, with 60 percent indicating they bought gear to wear, followed by shoes at 21 percent and accessories at 17 percent.

In terms of retailers doing the best to drive e-commerce sales, Market Force said, “Nordstrom leads on website visits and online satisfaction; but American Eagle Outfitters converts more purchases.”

Fifty-two percent of shoppers said they shopped American Eagle online in the last 90 days and 80 percent said they made a purchase. H&M followed as second for converting e-commerce sales, with 39 percent indicating they shopped at the store online recently and 76 percent made a purchase. Nordstrom, by comparison, had 64 percent of consumers surveyed visit their e-tail site and 70 percent made a purchase, landing the retailer in sixth place on the metric.

Consumers are luke warm on retail right now

Regardless of which retailers are ahead and which are falling behind, consumers are just uninspired by retail today.

“Consumers gave generally fairly low ratings to all aspects of their fashion shopping experience.” Market Force said.

When asked to think about how their favorite retailer stacks up on certain aspects, only 43 percent of consumers felt that retailer offered good value for money, just 39 percent said they were satisfied with the overall atmosphere in the store, and a low 30 percent said they were pleased with the ease of being able to find what they were looking for.

“About one third of customers said their favorite retailer performed poorly on all drivers,” according to Market Force.

When it came to merchandise selection, TJ Maxx took the top spot, followed by Ross Stores and Old Navy. Nordstrom took the lead for store atmosphere and value for money, with Ann Taylor and Dillards coming second and third in both categories.