By  on June 23, 2008

In an online experiment, Nordstrom's "Design to Inspire" series of videos launched on its Web site today featuring Milly and its designer, Michelle Smith.

The idea is to test the impact of video content on selling by having the designer discuss in short videos the style and inspiration of different items, for what occasions they're best suited and ways to accessorize them.

"We've been experimenting quite a bit with video on our Web site, but this is the first time we've broken the video up into snippets and embedded them into the shopping process," said Linda Finn, executive vice president of marketing for the Seattle-based Nordstrom.

Asked why the concept is making its debut with Milly, Finn said: "It's one of our most popular brands online. Also, Michelle is very personable. She is very relaxed on camera, and really acts like a personal stylist."

The format is like a trunk show online, in that it enables customers to learn about products direct from the designer, and preorder them.

Smith appears in 13 different videos in which she discusses a total of 16 items. In one, she profiles a silk twill sheath dress with a grosgrain neckline and waist detailing. "It's a great dress to wear to the office and out for cocktails," she says. "I suggest wearing it with a jacket for day [that you can take] off when you go out for cocktails and pairing it with a chic little clutch and patent leather shoes."

Customers need to click on each video to view it. They see Smith either wearing the item herself, or working with a model.

The videos were shot in the Milly showroom in New York and will be on Nordstrom's Web site through July 6. For the "Design to Inspire" project, Nordstrom collaborated with Minneapolis consulting company Zeus Jones.

There will be an e-mail blast on Tuesday unveiling this first round of videos with Milly. Nordstrom plans to create another round with another designer in the fall, but considers Milly a test. The retailer has carried Milly in its Via C designer department since spring 2004 and online since pre-fall 2007.Nordstrom has been actively testing concepts online. In February, for example, Jeffrey Kalinsky of the Jeffrey designer store, which is owned by Nordstrom, was spotlighted in the "Town Car Chronicles." Kalinsky recapped the New York fashion shows as he rode in the Town Car. Also, designers such as Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg have been featured in 2-minute videos at events. The company also has done mobile marketing involving text-messaging shoppers of the BP juniors floor.

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