By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Retailer Nordstrom has just begun testing new pick-up options for its customers, with 20 stores offering a new curbside pickup option for purchases made online. With the new service, customers are able to drive to their nearby store, and receive their purchases without even leaving their car. Nordstrom currently has the “Buy Online, Pick Up in Store” option for their customers, but like many retailers, is exploring the possibility of curbside pickup. The option is currently being tested at the recently-remodeled downtown Seattle store. A full list of the pilot stores isn't available at this time, but it's safe to assume the option is likely near the retailer's flagship stores.
"We're trying to make shopping more convenient," says Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom stores, to the Puget Sound Business Journal. "In the past we've made people come all the way up to the back of the third floor."
All purchases made during Nordstrom's business hours will be ready within one hour of the order placement, according to Geekwire. Customers will receive an email notification for when their order is ready for curbside pickup, and the email will give them the pickup phone number. Once customers are ready to pickup their order, they can text or call the store prior to arriving. The employee will then have the purchase available outside and can put it in the customer's car. The retailer identified how to best get the service available at their test stores, and implemented their strategy quickly.
“We were able to launch this test quickly and empowered the stores to work with mall owners (if necessary) to create a designated parking spot with signage making it easy and fast for their customers,” says Nordstrom spokesperson Dan Evans to Geekwire.
Nordstrom has some big plans for the rest of 2015. Their February 2015 conference call outlined the retailer's objective for retail dominance, with a slated $1.2 billion dollar expenditure on their e-commerce and stores. The retailer also plans to invest $4.3 billion dollars, 5% of their sales, into the in-store and online customer experience. The earnings call also mentioned a plan for free two-day shipping for Nordstrom customers as well, though no concrete plans for that have been made public at this time.
Curbside pickup is a new facet of omnichannel retailing that retailers in all categories are exploring. Once offered just by grocery retailers, curbside is a new way to draw business, and compete with Amazon when it comes to order fulfillment. Retailers Target and Best Buy both began testing the option in conjunction with the app Curbside, which lets customers shop from a mobile phone, make a purchase, and then pick it up, all without going inside the store. Target began with an initial 10 store test in the fall in San Francisco, and now has 11 stores with curbside pickup. Best Buy is also testing the service in California at several stores. Eventually the retailers may roll out the option to stores in other states. General merchandise and grocery retailer Meijer recently began testing the option as well.