You don’t need to have ‘stuff’ in a store for it to be a shop. There are alternatives.
Imagine this. You’re in shopping mode and heading down to the high street. There are a load of stores with shelves groaning under the weight of all the inventory displayed within their walls. You are spoilt for choice.
Yet instead of selecting from any of them, you head for the one emporium that appears to have no stock whatsoever. It might sound a curious decision, but it is not without merit.
You’re a modern person and you know your way around both your laptop and the smartphone to which you are umbilically attached.
So you know exactly what’s out there and what the price of almost everything is, long before you arrive at the shops. All you have to do is pick up your order and perhaps have a little ‘service’ time.
That is the underlying premise of Nordstrom Local, an offshoot of the eponymous Seattle-based department store group designed to provide a more convenient option for existing customers, layered with a range of services.
At present there are two Nordstrom Locals, both in Los Angeles. The first opened at the end of last year and the second, measuring 3,000 sq ft, welcomed its first ‘shoppers’ a couple of months back.
They do have a very limited amount of fashion stock, but none of it can be taken away and the clothes are really just there as tasters of what Nordstrom is about.
More to the point, they are not just glorified click-and-collect stations. Instead, visitors can have a coffee at the in-store café (or maybe even a ‘drink’ drink) while they wait for their shoes to be repaired, having handed in their clothes to the dry cleaner, prior to having a manicure. This is service.
And shoppers appear to like it. Two more Nordstom Locals are scheduled for LA this year and it’s a fair bet that more will follow in other large Nordstrom-friendly conurbations.
Is this, however, a store? It doesn’t really have anything tangible that you can buy in situ and walk away with, but it does provide something that Amazon at present cannot.
Shoppers may make purchases online, but they can then enjoy a range of services as they complete the transactional loop when picking up the goods.
This is an online shop with bells and whistles and seems a good alternative to the mundane click-and-collect counter. There are also reasons to come back.
Nordstom Local may not be the whole of the future, but it certainly looks like one direction in which things are headed.