What does omnichannel mean to the Neiman Marcus Group?

“The phrase omnichannel is definitely overused. It’s really just about how we connect with customers and leveraging all parts of Neiman Marcus,” said Lindy Rawlinson, senior vice president of customer experience, Neiman Marcus Group. The parts include the 42 Neiman Marcus stores, neimanmarcus.com, Bergdorf Goodman, bergdorfgoodman.com, the corporation’s catalogues, marketing channels and mobile devices.

“For us, the idea of omnichannel has evolved into creating a seamless shopping experience in which we can further our relationships with our customers. In order to make that evolution, we had to make sure we had the right foundation of all of the capabilities,” Rawlinson said. “We’ve done so in the last number of years.”

NMG now offers buy-online, pick-up-in-store, ship-from-stores, ship-to-stores from distribution centers, same-day delivery, and has one pool of inventory under its new NMG One system, which as of last August was fully phased in and has been experiencing some glitches affecting vendors. Stores can also take returns from online orders.

“It doesn’t make any difference how a customer shops, or where a transaction takes place. Everything we do is focused on the customer,” Rawlinson said. “We view those capabilities as a necessity so customers can interact with Neiman Marcus anytime, anywhere.”

Neiman’s has also been working to identify potential points of friction in “the shopping journey…making sure we remove any barriers, making sure interactions are easy and fun and capitalizing on the differences in the experiences of the different shopping channels.”

Through research, surveys, talking to customers and sales associates, and through data, Neiman’s works to identify issues in the shopping journey, Rawlinson stressed. To improve it, “We focus on unique and compelling experiences, within and across the channels,” she said.

A key enabler is personalization — “a pillar of our customer experience,” Rawlinson said. Neiman’s personalizes e-mail content, makes product recommendations based on browsing and buying histories of the customers, and replicates, as much as possible, store experiences and online experiences.

“Relationships between sales associates and customers, on the web site we try to replicate that…. We have a history of personalizing online,” with e-mails, product recommendations, and homepage content, she said. Loyalty programs are being personalized as well, by reminding customers of benefits they’re entitled to, as well as  points they’ve earned, and providing information about special events likely to be of interest, such as trunk shows at their local stores with their favorite designers.

The more the customer interacts with the web site or shops the stores, the more personalized the communications become.

Browsing or purchasing from a particular brand or designer leads to greater communications concerning that brand or designer, but not entirely. “We want to make sure they have that [sense of] discovery,” Rawlinson said.

NMG recently launched size preferences, recommending sizes for a select products, and enables customers to quickly see if the product they want is available in their size.

In addition, associates all have iPhones to help customers determine availability of products and where they are located, and inform customers on new products and other matters.

Neiman’s new tools geared to help customers shop include: the memory mirror, which shoots videos of customers in what they have tried on and allows the customer to compare different looks, side by side, and forward the looks to friends and family for second opinions. There’s also the “snap, find, shop” technology which enables customers to take photos of items they see on someone or on a magazine page, so Neiman’s notifies them if they carry the exact product or provides a similar product.

“Understanding that customer’s journey is one of the things we spend a lot time on,” Rawlinson said. “It makes no difference what channel or device a customer decides to browse or purchase with at Neiman Marcus. What matters is that we provide the full Neiman Marcus experience in that journey of the customer in the most relevant way possible.”

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