How (personalized) personal shopping could help you find the perfect pair of pants

Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in Innovation, Retail

headshotI’ll admit it; I’m your typical undiagnosed, brand-fixated, shopaholic. Nordstrom would classify my condition as a “Level 2.” I’m not sure what it took (cost) to get here, but all I know is that I’ve done enough damage to start receiving handwritten notes from the sales associates. There are several brands that I tend to gravitate towards, but I’m always open to trying something new, especially in my ongoing search for the next great fitting pair of pants. I tend to rely on word-of-mouth and web browsing for brand research, but I often feel like I’m missing out on trendy, new brands when shopping in-store – brands that could be ideal for me as a individual (read: picky) customer.

I recently went to Nordstrom with the hopes of finding an awesome pair of super well-fitted summer pants. After browsing around for a while, I realized that there really wasn’t much info provided on each specific brand. Surely each brand is unique and possesses some special quality that separates it from the masses, but there wasn’t an easy way to access it without asking an associate or pulling out my iPhone to Google it. Feeling a bit overwhelmed (and realizing that my lackluster 3g connection just wasn’t going to cut it), I asked a sales associate for assistance. After about 15 minutes of unsuccessful searching, the associate led me to the Bonobos section of the store – bingo! Great fit, vibrant colors, wonderful feel and fun pocket details…exactly what I was looking for. However, I probably wouldn’t have discovered this epic brand amongst everything else had a store associate not personally led me directly to the Bonobos rack.

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I ended up purchasing a Brilliant Blue pair of Bonobos chinos on the spot (and a bottle of Jack Black Face Buff – totally awesome, highly recommended). Although very satisfied with my purchase, I left the store wondering how it might have ended differently had there been a
higher level of interactive engagement integrated into the in-store experience. If I had the ability to quickly and easily access information on the individual brands that Nordstrom skillfully
selects for its stores, I think I’d be inclined to spend more time in the store, try on more items, and probably check out with a (much) larger basket. My store associate was extremely friendly and helpful, but with dozens of other shoppers needing assistance, it would be impossible for him to take enough time to properly explain all of the different brands to me.

The DamageGiven the limited time sales associates can spend with each customer, I also pondered the potential benefits of the sales team having access to the types of brands I tend to browse/buy online and in other stores. If my associate had access to that information, we could have skipped the Tommy Bahamas, walked right past the Brooks Brothers – great brands, but not in line with my personal needs as a buyer – and made our way more quickly to the Bonobos section. This increased personalization would be a boon to both associates and customers. The associates would appear even more in touch with their clients’ wants & needs while the customers would spend a higher proportion of their time with the brands that they’d be most inclined to actually buy. Certainly seems like a win-win to me. Just some food for thought…