The US market has seen a slew of shop closures and many retailers are finding it difficult to keep their customer base interested. Some iconic names like American Apparel, The Limited, Abercrombie & Fitch, Wet Seal, Gymboree have either closed down or are on the verge of bankruptcy. Yet, there are a few other retailers/brands that continue to grow and remain preferred shopping destinations for consumers. A recent study by Market Force Information (Market Force) covering 10,000 consumers, found that Nordstrom continues to rank as the nation’s favourite fashion retailer fifth year in a row on parameters of value, atmosphere and ease of finding items. The retailer has built an enviable reputation of having an incomparable customer service and has hence, earned a loyal fan base.
Even in a very challenging retail environment, the retailer achieved a record sale of US $ 14.5 billion in 2016 because of the significant improvement the company was able to achieve along the supply chain to enhance value and keep its customers happy, the core of being a favourite fashion retailer. According to retail analyst, Nordstrom has managed to accrue (and maintain) a loyal fan base for a number of reasons – serving up street style-worthy, budget-friendly fashion, championing beloved Indie Brands’, famous customer service, and for its epic anniversary sale. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale originated in the 1960s and is a one-of-a-kind sale – every July, the company brings in new styles from highly sought-after brands for men, women and kids. The retailer is committed to having a unique breadth of offering from accessible to luxury price points and the Anniversary Sale follows suit. It’s the ultimate sale with something for everyone in every category: clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, home and beauty. It’s a sale the whole nation waits for!
Brands new to Anniversary Sale this year included Good American, Good Man Brand, Cinq a Sept, ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo and J. Crew, along with returning customer favourites like FRAME Denim, Rag & Bone, Current/Elliot, Elizabeth & James, Ashley Graham Lingerie, Nike, Stuart Weitzman and more. The Anniversary Sale also featured merchandise from Topshop/Topman, Madewell and Charlotte Tilbury which are available exclusively at Nordstrom. “We’re fortunate to have a terrific team of buyers who start working with our merchandise partners months before the Anniversary Sale begins,” said Scott Meden, Nordstrom Chief Marketing Officer, and added, “Our partners know how important this annual event is to our customers, so we’re excited to be able to bring in a fantastic assortment of new styles at reduced prices that aren’t available anywhere else.”
Nordstrom, Inc. is a leading fashion specialty retailer based in the US. Founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle, today Nordstrom operates 354 stores in 40 states, including 122 full-line stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; 221 Nordstrom rack stores; two Jeffrey boutiques; and two clearance stores. The company net sales increased 2.7 per cent and comparable sales decreased 0.8 per cent, in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same quarter last year.
Vendor partnerships for value…
To keep its customers happy, the retailer works very closely with its vendors across the world to create value. Besides its huge vendor base, a small but growing portion of overall product offering comes from Nordstrom Product Group (NPG), the retailer’s family of private label brands. In 2016, NPG included 54 brands manufactured in 484 factories across 30 countries. India has the second highest number of vendors in this category (after China) with 59 associated factories. NPG is committed to working with agents, manufacturers, factories and mills to ensure that final consumers obtain compliant private label merchandise. The Product Integrity team supports NPG by proactively researching, interpreting and communicating rules, bans, regulations and standards for all private label products. In addition, a third-party testing programme has been implemented to ensure that products meet these standards.
The NPG is dedicated to providing garments, allowing comfortable movement while flattering the figure. The retailer’s technical designers work with suppliers to achieve consistent fit and quality by maintaining standards while achieving the brand’s cost targets and design integrity. The Technical Design team manages the fit process from design through commercialization. On the production front, a special Production Planning team manages the production timeline from order commitment through production execution and delivery. The planners communicate order commitments to the manufacturers, maintain costing and handle purchase order management. Together, the retailer and its global vendors strive to offer new products at best prices.
Top five NPG suppliers for Nordstrom in 2016 by volume were: 1. China (275 factories); 2. India (59 factories); 3. Vietnam (16 factories); 4. United States (48 factories); and 5. Bangladesh (1 factory)
NPG also tested eight new packaging reduction programmes in 2016, including use of less tissue papers in Halogen cashmere sweaters and removal of some of the paperboards used in men’s dress shirts and underwear. NPG’s women’s division stopped packing denim and casual knit tops in individual plastic bags and instead now packs multiple products in one large bag… These packaging-reduction pilots kept more than 20 tonnes of packaging out of the supply chain.
With a vision of a happy value chain, the retailer is also working with two factories in northern India, to pilot Project Prerna, an initiative from the non-profit organization Impactt Limited. The initiative is to train factory management and workers on effective communication strategies to increase worker satisfaction. More than 2,000 people are participating in the programme, with workers and supervisors already reporting about improved working relationships and clearer paths for advancement.