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Neiman Marcus and the Art of Omnichannel

The department store chain continues to fine tune its "O2O," which stands for "Online to Offline," customer experience.

“A little bit of art and science” is how Aaron Shockey, vice president of digital marketing and advertising at the Neiman Marcus Group, described his job.

This story first appeared in the September 26, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Shockey said the company’s goal is to create an “omnichannel experience. We’re one Neiman Marcus. We’re adapting brand heritage with an excellent customer experience. It must be the same online. We call it the O2O [Offline to Online] brand experience.”

Neiman’s view of omnichannel extends to social media, the NM Daily blog and original content such as a video for the launch of Rachel Zoe’s jewelry collection. “Customers like engaging with content,” he said.


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Shockey said traffic to stores from mobile devices is increasing at an exponential rate.

About five years ago, Neiman’s questioned whether “luxury customers would buy apparel online,” he said. “The digital channel was driving traffic to the sites. Now traffic is going directly to stores.” More than $2 out of every $5 of Neiman Marcus customers’ apparel, accessories and shoe spend is now done online. And he needn’t have worried about customers eschewing apparel online. “Retail apparel and accessories are among the largest categories,” he said.

Mobile phones have been the biggest game changer, according to Shockey. More than half of Neiman’s customers use smartphones in stores.

“By 2016, smart phones will influence roughly 20 percent of US sales,” he said. “Roughly 75 percent of Neiman Marcus customers report relying on multiple channels when making a purchase.”

Neiman’s is giving shoppers the tools to make decisions. The NM Service app, which is being piloted in four stores, “is all about [customers] having information on a smart phone while in store.” It interfaces with customers and sales associates, who use it to check a customer’s sales history and wish lists in order to suggest appropriate products.

“We’ll continue to test apps,” Shockey said.

The company has been working on one-to-one ads. “The click-through rates are three times higher with personalized e-mails,” Shockey said. “We could take personalization to the online experience. I could see taking it into navigation and search results.”

Whatever the method is, it’s most important that “before the last click, you’ve inspired the customer to go shop,” he said.