By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Despite Fourth Quarter Losses, Retailer Remains Optimistic
Neiman Marcus has unveiled a new "Digital First" strategy designed to further its position in the luxury retail space "by anticipating customers' evolving behaviors and engaging them more deeply to drive traffic online and in stores," according to a company press release. The company also reported total fourth quarter revenues of $1.12 billion, reflecting a 0.5% decline in same-store revenues from the year-ago quarter. That's a net loss in the quarter of $366.3 million, compared to its $407.3 million loss the prior year. Although the retailer experienced a drop in the fourth quarter, the company remains optimistic about its future.
Neiman Marcus chief executive Karen Katz was decidedly upbeat in the recent conference call, stating that there is “positive momentum for our business in the first quarter,” even in the wake of the recent hurricanes (Harvey and Irma), The Dallas News reported. Sales are improving in apparel, handbags and shoes, especially sneakers, according to Katz, and e-commerce sales were $363 million in the period, with same-store digital sales rising 9.1 percent.
The new “Digital First” strategy includes new technology that allows sales personnel to better use customer data and analytics, including searching preferences and browsing history to create outfits for customers and deliver the suggestions via text messages, Katz explained.
"Our online business will continue to outperform our store business, and at 30 percent of total sales, it will continue to grow in importance," Katz said. Nieman Marcus recently adopted a new inventory system that allows stores to see merchandise in stock across the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman chains and in warehouses. As a result, the chain has seen an improvement in online sales of 9 percent in the fourth quarter to $363 million and the first online positive sales increase for BG.com in two years. Katz said that the new system is already helping make merchandising more disciplined.