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A Better Way to Shop

I have been shopping online for many years now and I was thinking about the things I buy online and the things I buy in the store. Sometimes I buy things in the store because I sought advice and other times I buy online because the price was just too good. But with services like Zappos, Amazon Fresh and Google Shopping Express I am beginning to wonder if there is a future left for brick and mortar retailers. This way of shopping is going to usher in a shift in the way we shop and buy goods. How can retailers compete? Online taxes have helped but the convenience is simply too much to overcome so retailers will need to provide something that online retailers can't. In other words something beyond the product itself.

I was thinking about one of my favorite men's stores, Nordstrom. If Nordstrom and another online retailer provide the same product how can Nordstrom attract me to their website vs the competition? And how can they get me into their store?

First, they must provide their own website. That much is obvious. It has to offer a compelling experience. Nordstrom does this. You can browse their product and get a really good look at it before you buy. They also have EXCELLENT return and exchange policies.

But to bring customers into the stores it has to go much further than that. The store must link to the website and the store must provide an experience that is accessible through the website. In the case of Nordstroms I propose that they offer customers their own in store tailor that is specifically assigned to them. It would work like this:

  1. The customer uses the website to arrange a one or two hour in store appointment at their local Nordstrom.
  2. A dedicated tailor is assigned to them for the day/time they are scheduled to come in.
  3. A customer browses the website as usual. When they see something they like they add the clothes into a new kind of "check out cart".
  4. When the customer arrives at the store they find a dedicated tailor and a dedicated dressing room. The clothes that were picked out online and are pulled and ready to try on.
  5. The tailor is assigned to them for the duration so they can pull clothes as needed and help the customer find something that looks good and fits well. The tailors are well trained and most importantly honest about what is working and what isn't.
  6. The credit card is on file from the website so at the end of the experience the customer simply walks out of the store with their clothes (the tailor has been keeping track).

It is this kind of "above and beyond" the good itself services that will compel people to visit brick and mortar. It's important to point out that this does not compete with or replace the website. It begins with and complements the website. It creates a synergy between both shopping worlds, melding them together.

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