Nordstrom’s [JWN] acquisition today of Trunk Club (a personal shopping service for guys who hate to shop but want to look good) is reported in the business press today with all the right financial reasons: scale, financial strength, distribution efficiencies, etc. Sales may double to $100 million according to its founder, Brian Spaly, the chief executive at Trunk Club.


Nordstrom’s acquisition increases its footprint in the booming [14%, Bain] global luxury menswear market and expands its reach. These are impressive operational wins.

Strategically, the value may be much higher. The Trunk Club acquisition gives Nordstrom an almost turnkey capability for scaling its popular personal stylist service. Imagine what would happen to Nordstrom’s $2.8 billion quarterly sales if all of its customers had access to hundreds of brands, their own personal shopper, the ability to return anything that didn’t fit, and fashion advice—all without having to go to the store. Imagine again what those numbers might be if Nordstrom’s used Trunk Club’s road-tested personal shopping solution to give new customers a taste of the Nordstrom’s brand experience.

In retail, fit matters. Nordstrom is known for having one of the best retail customer experiences in the business. Trunk Club may turn out to be a near-perfect cultural fit. It has a few stores, but most of its sales are done through virtual personal shoppers who are accessible through the company’s website, app, phone, and email. The shoppers know how to answer men’s questions, build their wardrobes, and help them feel confident about spending more on clothes than they are used to. Trunks contain both requested items and surprises from the shopper arrive by FedEx. Kept items are paid for. Returned items are not. Shipping both ways is free. The customer support is an on-brand blend of personal and automated.

home try on

Nordstrom’s Trunk Club acquisition achieves a triple bottom-line benefit. Shareholders get a good investment and potential upside around scaling the personal stylist service. Employees get to engage with new partners who share values and appreciate each other’s skills. Finally, customers should benefit from expanded services and an even better experience.

Inquire about our services if you would like  great retail experience designs for customers on the front end of your business with clearly detailed capabilities on the back.

One dimension of a Store of the Future Initiative is a digital transformation.  Use a Store of the Future as the starting point to introduce technology while perfecting the operational side of the business for a truly seamless experience across channels.

Overhaul internal processes with a digital transformation for seamless customer experiences.

computer chip

Companies like Amazon and Apple have forever changed customer’s expectations for services and delivery. Customers have grown accustomed to real-time technology that doesn’t demand redundancy. Slick, shiny, quick, smart–this is how customers want to describe their experience with retailers.

Traditional businesses just can’t compete. The reality is that businesses that have been created for rapid delivery through digitization are disrupting the marketplace.  Without an overhaul of internal processes to fit the customer’s needs, the traditional business is on the way out.

Challenge Traditional Thinking

An overhaul of internal process is a win-win scenario for traditional businesses that commit to the change.

  • Reduce operational costs
  • Less risk
  • Better pricing for customers
  • Employee satisfaction goes up (aka reduce costs even more)

While digitization is a primary key to providing the types of experiences customers are looking for today, this is about more than just “automating” a process.  Think of this as a multi-tasking operation. Rather than just creating a way to automate a process, the objective should also be to reduce the number of steps required, reduce documents and possibly automate routine decision-making.

When paper-based processes are replaced with digital ones, you gain access to valuable data. The newly captured data can be used to provide insight into customer buying behavior letting you anticipate what your customers want and when. This knowledge can be used to improve supply chain and manage inventory with better precision.

Fundamentals for Success

  • As with all great Customer Experience Design, begin with the future state and work backward–toward today. This insures that you achieve the end result desired. Not some mediocre middle area.
  • Create cross-functional units and include people that don’t all think alike except for one trait-they should be problem solvers and not easily derailed by traditional thinking.
  • Build a team that is committed to the long-term outcome of the project. The first management team that will head up the initiative is a key investment and should be chosen with care.
  • Stagnation is death to transformation. Address protocol within the organization that slows progress.

Introducing new technology within the structure of a Store of the Future, provides the game-changing opportunity to develop a culture of innovation and positively transform your brand. Initiate change on your own terms with a Store of the Future initiative.

Make a big shift in focus and start transforming your business by answering this question–why us?

Why do you exist for your customer? Why are they really doing business with you? Answer these questions to get to the heart of what your customer truly finds valuable and to discover your Reason For Being. Delivering on your company’s Reason for Being requires a big shift in thinking that focuses on customer-centric experience design.question

Operating your business with a  Reason For Being provides a connection between what your customers want most and your ability to deliver. This is a critical step in designing the the kinds of experiences that your customers desire and will rave about.

But we have a Mission Statement?

A traditional Mission Statement is often a dry, colorless paragraph of lofty ideals that sound good. Sometimes they are framed and hang in a prominent area that only visitors see; sometimes they just stand alone in the corner gathering dust. This is because there is no connection from the mission statement to how the business operates or to what customers value. A Mission Statement usually represents only what the business values.

Your Reason For Being originates from what your customers value. A Reason for Being states what outcome of value you produce, for whom and how to keep the promises your brand makes.  The value is determined by your customer. You will not find a column on your balance sheet for this value but providing the value that your customer desires will have a positive impact on your balance sheet.

Finding out what your customers want most from your business will probably take some assistance from outside sources. Objectivity is key here.  Anyone that has already sipped the Kool-Aid probably can’t offer that point of view.

Ways to Uncover What Your Customers Really Value

  • Analytics and data
  • Interviews with customers and staff
  • Walkthroughs and Undercover shopping

You will also need to identify your primary customers and determine how promises will be kept, remembering that your business process should never dictate your customer experience.

Some of the outcomes for businesses that define their Reason For Being:

  • Greater Efficiency
  • Easier Management and Clear Purpose for Employees
  • Agility and Responsiveness

Getting clarity on your Reason For Being will benefit your business by ensuring that decisions are made that reflect what is best for your customers and your business. Clarity around the Reason for Being leads to value-added experiences that increase long-term loyalty and referrals. The internal changes brought about through an active Reason For Being result in stronger relationships with customers which ultimately show up on your bottom line.

Brick and mortar retail isn’t battling e-commerce; it’s battling itself. With e-commerce still only accounting for a single digit percentage of total U.S. retail sales in 2012, you can hardly blame online shopping for lagging in-store sales. What’s more, it turns out that most shoppers place immediacy as their top priority. You can’t get more immediate than going to the store and coming home with your purchase. So what’s up?

According to a recent report published by WD Partners, the most appealing attribute for the majority of retail customers was immediacy above all else, and this was true for online or offline shoppers. After immediacy, shoppers ranked sensory perceptions of a store second, and bargains or exclusives third in priority.

The exception to the respondents were the Millennials. The Millennials ranked instant ownership third in their ideal shopping circumstance, the rest of the respondents chose “get it now” at the top of their list.

This report was compiled from a broad demographic spectrum and here is how it broke down by demographic.

Millennials tend to seek unlimited options or the aisle that never ends. This may be due to the fact that Millennials have grown up in big box stores offering many options but very little in the way of personal assistance. The report showed that the younger the respondent, the less the physical experience mattered.

The Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers were more connected to the physical experience. They appeared to be longing for a past experience that can only come from a brick and mortar visit. Boomers, Gen-Xers and Milliennials all were looking for better social and emotional experiences in store. This is the area where brands could make a big impact through top notch sales associates.

With customer desires established, all design decisions should translate into the Customer Experience.

Knowing that customers want immediacy, endless options AND better experiences, this knowledge should translate into every aspect of the Customer Experience Design.  A design-based solution is necessary beginning with the greeting in store, the first expression of a customer’s online experience and flowing through operational details that let the Customer Experience happen.

They say you can’t please everyone all of the time, but you can get pretty close if you incorporate Experience Design, Service Design, Retail Design and Business Design in your strategy.

The data from this research points out the necessity for brick and mortar retailers to reinvent the in-store experience. This calls for design-based solutions that include the human element, the operational details and technology that works for the customer.  Real differentiation is going to come from integrating technology in the way that the customer wants and from outstanding sales associates supported by internal processes that work for the customer. This is accomplished by incorporating all four areas of design.

Retailers with engaged, service-oriented employees, armed with technology that provides the shopper with what they want have the competitive advantage today.

Join retail executives at the 2014 Omnichannel Retail Executive Forum on July 16 to hear from experts on everything from integrating technology, the latest in merchandising strategies, protecting your enterprise from cyber attack, winning in today’s complex environment and how to create an innovation lab.

Store of the Future is Your Own Retail Innovation Lab

Mike will speak on how to create your Store of the Future for testing new store concepts, innovation and branding. An innovation lab is where a continual flow of ideas can be put to the test, safely, before rolling out to customers. Incorporate Experience Design, Service Design, Retail Design and Business Design to be most successful. By including all four areas of design you accomplish the look and feel of the brick and mortar, integrate the human element, create efficiencies and align the entire organization.

The forum will include keynote speakers, panel discussions, workshops, roundtable discussions and networking opportunities.

Hope to see you there!

About the Author

During 25 years in 25 countries with 400+ companies, Mike and his clients have co-created over $1.5 billion in measurable impact with his guidance on their experience and business designs . Under the Storyminers brand, he helps retailers design and deploy Store-of-the-Future initiatives that create new business opportunities and rekindle investor interest. Mike is a top 25 customer experience influencer (as ranked by SAP and MindTouch), a global speaker, and founding member of Global CX Panel and the CXPA.