News Feature | September 9, 2013

iPads In Dressing Rooms? Nordstrom Is Saying 'Yes'

Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

iPad Shopping

The department store chain seeks to elevate the customer experience through numerous digital initiatives

Nordstrom, the upscale department store chain, is contemplating the placement of Apple iPads in its dressing rooms to bolster the customer experience. By placing the mobile devices in dressing rooms, Nordstrom customers and associates would be able to look up product information — sizes, colors, similar styles, etc. — and availability. Many retailers already use smartphones and tablets in-store to meet the needs of digital savvy customers, Nordstrom’s move to put iPads in each dressing room could push it ahead of the omnichannel pack. “We are focused on looking at in-store experiences,” said Jessica Scheibach, group product manager at Nordstrom Direct. “We want to marry the online and in-store experiences.”

The addition of in-dressing room iPads could help customers looking to “pre-shop.” Customers could browse Nordstrom’s e-commerce presence from home, choosing items they wish to try on in-store, and have them waiting upon arrival. The in-dressing room iPad could then offer suggestions for the customer based on their chosen items and previously purchased items. This could be the next form of a personal shopper or concierge, furthering the in-store and web options.

Nordstrom’s in-dressing room tablet idea is just the latest addition to its already forward-thinking mobile shopping plans. In April, the company improved the customer experience with its mobile app updates to include SMS product sharing and customer reviews. Also, Nordstrom’s iPad app was updated in 2012 with personalized mobile shopping experiences like virtual dressing rooms, social sharing, and a personalized homepage. All of these features helped Nordstrom distinguish itself in the realm of mobile retail. As mobile retail becomes more prevalent, retailers should adopt practices to personalize mobile technologies which improve the customer experience.

Nordstrom is also starting to eliminate checkout lines with the use of mobile POS. The upscale retailer is using both iPads and iPod touches in its approach to mobilizing retail sales. First, Nordstrom is looking into making iPads available for customers to utilize self-checkout. However, this becomes tricky with commissioned sales. Scheibach noted that customers looking to utilize self-checkout via mobile POS might only be able to do so in “commission free zones.” Nordstrom addresses this problem by arming associates with iPod touches equipped with mobile POS capabilities. By giving associates mobile POS devices, Nordstrom allows customers the freedom of checking out anywhere, but also gives hard-working associates their well-earned commission.