Nordstrom flagship banks on luxury experience amid retail slump

Come for the shoes, stay for the cocktails, manicures and free Wi-Fi.

Nordstrom will open its New York City flagship store on Thursday with convenient luxuries like on-demand alterations and 24/7 online order pickups, along with amenities like blowouts and spa treatments that may incline some to stay awhile. And the interactive in-store experiences are what's needed to boost foot traffic and compete with e-commerce, retail experts say.

Nordstrom's department store will have on-demand tailoring, alterations and stylists. (Courtesy of Nordstrom).

"Consumers have many options when it comes to shopping these days, and in order to lure consumers away from competitors -- and the couch -- retailers need to offer a unique and enjoyable shopping experience," Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot, told FOX Business, adding: "Some amenities include free perks and treatments, collaborations with influencers and designers, in-store events, pop-ups with emerging brands looking for a retail footprint, and partnerships with disruptive brands consumers have an affinity for.

"These tactics give shoppers not only a reason to walk through the door, but more reason to stay and shop around.”

- Sara Skirboll, RetailMeNot

Here's how Nordstrom is modernizing the department store model.

Tech will shape the in-store shopping experience

Tech is a big part of Nordstrom’s new shopping experience. The retailer implemented what it calls "Connected Fitting Rooms," which summon a salesperson or tailor with the push of a button. There’s also phone charging stations set-up throughout the store so customers can plug in their phones, and free Wifi for those who need to send a work email while shopping on their lunch break. Customers can also tap a touch-screen to call up a sales person if they need another size they can't find on the rack. The store will also offer on-site tailoring with free basic alterations and express service available for customers on the go. Shoppers simply tap a touch screen to summon a tailor to the floor.

Nordstrom's New York City flagship. (Courtesy of Nordstrom).

"We’re seeing more and more tech integrated into retail, and it’s more important than ever as a way to create a seamless shopping experience," Skirboll said. "Utilizing conveyor belts to display footwear and delivering cocktails on demand to consumers anywhere in the store are great examples of the technological shift in retail."

Nordstrom will offer online order pick-up 24-hours a day every day, so tourists can have a winter coat shipped straight to the store in time to stroll through Central Park nearby. Shoppers can also get their shoes shined or heels repaired at the in-store cobbler service on lower level one.

Convenient luxuries

Shoppers can book a beauty treatment online and show up for it in stores. A neon pink Instagram-friendly signage lures in customers to its Beauty Haven, where they can put their bags down and cozy up to a manicure or pedicure while gawking at skincare products like facemasks, and services like blowouts from Drybar and express facials from HeyDay. Shoppers can customize their pampering time between 30 minutes to three hours.

Nordstrom will offer manicures and spa treatments at the Beauty Haven section of the store. (Courtesy of Nordstrom).

The food is also a feast for the eyes, with bites like green glazed mochi donuts, and an assortment of green tea, black sesame, and rosemary gelato. There will also be cocktails, and six food and beverage concepts sprinkled throughout the flagship.

There will be six food and beverage offerings including gelato and mochi donuts. (Courtesy of Nordstrom).

Nordstrom flagship comes amid a number of department store closings and acquisitions with rising rent costs and declining foot traffic. Barneys, the 96-year-old New York City high fashion institution said in Aug. it would close 15 of its 22 stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And Hudson’s Bay announced the sale of Lord & Taylor to clothing rental subscription service Le Tote weeks later after shuttering its New York City midtown flagship in Jan.

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