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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Embracing Technology, Nordstrom Suggests Why More Guys Are Dressing Up

For a retailer founded in 1901, Nordstrom has done an admirable job of embracing modern fashion and digital retail while still adhering to some important old-fashioned values. The Men’s Shop’s technology-enhanced Fall 2012 Sourcebook is one example, which picks up on the major theme of this blog — the value of dressing sharp.

While the issue is full of modern takes on professional clothing, page 14,  posted below with the permission of Nordstrom, focuses specifically on “Why More Guys are Dressing Up.”  If you’re having a hard time reading the small print, it says:

“[Men] want the credibility and authority that comes with wearing the right clothing.  They know that when they look more professional, they feel more confident. And that a successful image breeds success.”

Nordstrom still mails sleek paper copies of these things, which is much appreciated, but the catalog is also available online in an interactive format that permits readers to click through to purchase featured items.  The company has also utilized technology in other ways, encouraging certain employees to use social media and, in March, launching a “made-to-measure digital selling platform” to incorporate a business-to-business iPad app into the MTM experience alluded to at the bottom of the catalog page below.

More generally, of all of the major retailers, it feels like Nordstrom has figured out how to deliver a well-integrated bricks-and-clicks shopping experience through a combination of policies such as free shipping, flexible returns and uniform pricing across e-commerce, telephone sales and stores.  (In Pursuit of Pretty Things has a nice guide to taking full advantage of Nordstrom’s policies.)

At the same time, my experience has been that Nordstrom has tried to retain the kind of old-fashioned values and focus on customer service often lost in the modern world. A variety of experiences with sales reps, customer service, Nordstrom’s credit card division and public affairs team suggests a generally knowledgeable and helpful, even cheerful, workforce. (I first inquired about obtaining permission for the image below via an online chat with a Nordstrom representative, who wrote that it was “so cool!” that I wanted to write on this subject before helpfully connecting me with their headquarters.)

In an economy that tends to prize speaking from scripts and rigid systems over problem-solving and employee initiative, here’s to those who are trying hard to provide seamless, convenient and pleasant retail experiences for the digital age.

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