Nordstrom debuts service-focused store with no inventory

Nordstrom

Nordstrom

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that upscale department store chain Nordstrom JWN is readying a new concept that is much different than its other retail ventures: a store that doesn't even sell clothes.

Instead, Nordstrom Local will focus on free consultations with personal stylists, who will advise customers and then have the merchandise brought in. Nordstrom says customers can also buy online inside the store or pick up online orders the same day. Nike's recently opened store in NY has a basketball court where you can test out Nike shoes, and a treadmill that simulates different outdoor runs while also analyzing your gait.

"As the retail landscape continues to transform at an unprecedented pace, the one thing we know that remains constant is that customers continue to value great service, speed and convenience", said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom senior vice president of customer experience, who led the Nordstrom Local initiative, in a statement from the company. "Finding new ways to engage with customers on their terms is more important to us now than ever", Jensen continued.

Nordstrom's shares rose as much as 9.6 percent to $49.40 in after-hours trading on Tuesday, valuing the USA department store operator at $8.21 billion. The idea is to let customers try on clothing and accessories with the help of a personal stylist.

Such retailers include the likes of Target (tgt), which is focusing those efforts on city centers, and Kohl's (kss) and Sears (shld) which are shrinking many existing stores.

Bonobos, a men's fashion brand, also opened a store in downtown Detroit this year that, like Nordstrom Local, is set up specifically for online sales and high-end service.

Like many mall-based retailers, Nordstrom has been hit by the rise of online shopping and has been seeking to downsize its department store footprint. It's just a single location for now, and not all new Nordstrom stores will follow the model.

Nordstrom isn't the only retailer experimenting with smaller format stores.

More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone!

If nothing else, Nordstrom Local could be a valuable testing ground for Nordstrom to observe shoppers in the wild and figure out what they want.

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