Issues with showroom stores

Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

US department store chain Nordstrom is to open its first Nordstrom Local variant, which will act as a showroom where customers can buy a drink and relax but cannot take home any clothes. Instead they have to order them and wait for their chosen items to be delivered to their homes.

This follows the strategy employed by Bonobos and ModCloth in the US and Made.com in the UK. The great thing about these stores is that they do not have the aggravation of stock being regularly delivered and replenished etcetera. But what they really do for the pure-plays is give them a physical presence. They are more marketing propositions than anything else.

Made.com showroom

This is not exactly the required objective of a Nordstrom. It really does not need to boost its recognition and exposure. This raises the question of the full value of established retailers opening up small order-only outlets.

In contrast to the pure-plays, the likes of Nordstrom would traditionally have been giving their customers the instant gratification of being able to take their goods home immediately. This is what their customers have got used to. Bonobos and Made.com shoppers have never had the expectation of being able to do this.

But even for some online-only brands who have taken this showroom-type approach there can be issues in not enabling shoppers to take their goods home with them. Online sports goods retailer Pro-Direct Soccer opened a physical store in central London with the expectation that it would only allow customers to order its range of premium football boots and not hold any stock for take-home sales. But things didn’t quite work out that way and many younger shoppers wanted instant gratification and so changes had to be made to the proposition.

As an increasing amount of sales go online retailers have to recognise that one of the key aspects customers enjoy about the physical store experience is being able to walk out of the building with a bag containing their newly-acquired goods.

Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider

K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.

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