Mobile Insight

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Instant Gratification

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Every once in a while we come across an “innovation” that is so simple that it makes you wonder if it even should be called an “innovation.” One such innovation is what the retailer Nordstrom did to increase its sales over the past year. The idea is deceptively simple and not the least bit sexy. It doesn’t involve Facebook, Twitter or any other social network de jour. In fact it’s in the positively boring territory: it involves inventory management. As NYT describes it

The secret, at least for Nordstrom, has not involved a piercing insight into a customer’s mind. Rather, it has changed the way that it handles, of all things, inventory. And that has brought the department store more success in improving sales than at most of its competitors…

The change works this way: Say that a shopper was looking at a blue Marc Jacobs handbag at She could see where it was available at nearby stores, and reserve it for pickup the same day.

That’s it. Deceptively simple, isn’t it? At least the concept is simple. Creating the infrastructure to enable this is surely not simple. But by being the first to execute and linking online inventory with in-store inventory in real-time Nordstrom has seen dramatic changes

In the 11 months since Nordstrom made the inventory change, its same-store sales — sales at stores open more than a year, a crucial measure in retail — have outperformed the department store average measured by Thomson Reuters.OK

And how did they come up with this idea? By paying attention to what their customers were asking for.

Nordstrom began overhauling its online approach two years ago, adding the option to shop and buy online and pick up the item in a store. “It was the first thing that we did, because the No. 1 call we got at our call center was, ‘Hey, I’m looking at this item online, can I look at it at my store?’ ” Mr. Nordstrom said.

Instant gratification! That’s what Nordstrom has enabled. As convenient as online shopping is sometimes you want something and you want it now. Even next-day air is not fast enough. This is a great example of a corporation harnessing customer input to come up with actionable data and in turn being rewarded for it. Kudos to Nordstrom.


Written by Varma Chanderraju

August 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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