Rent the runway

Rent the Runway came and went at Neiman Marcus. Now the fashion rental company has hooked up with Nordstrom, in a different way.

Rent the Runway on Thursday installed drop-off boxes at three Nordstrom Local sites and one full-line Nordstrom department store, all in the Los Angeles area. Nordstrom Local sites provide services, such as order pickups, returns and alterations, but don’t stock merchandise. The Rent the Runway drop-off boxes fits into Nordstrom’s service and convenience scheme.

“Rent the Runway is a company we are really interested in. We have noticed their growing customer base and are excited by how quickly they move and how customer-focused they are,” said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s senior vice president of customer experience. “Rent the Runway has a fast-growing customer base and we have a physical footprint that provides convenience for customers.”

Jensen noted that Los Angeles is Nordstrom’s largest market and the most important one for Nordstrom in terms of bringing new experiences to customers.

“Nordstrom Local is at the core of our efforts to support ways to make it easier and more accessible for customers to utilize our services and connect with our brand. We continue to hear positive responses to Nordstrom Local and our services, and in particular we are interested in ways to serve additional customers and work with a strategic group of partners.” Nordstrom is testing pick-up and try-on for customers in the three Los Angeles Nordstrom Local locations with Narvar, which provides post-purchase experiences and services, and the brands that partner with Narvar.

In addition, Nordstrom has formed a partnership with Hello Alfred, the details of which will be shared in the coming months. Hello Alfred provides a range of personal and home services, such as cleaning, painting and laundry, to make your life easier.

Asked whether Rent the Runway arrangement is considered a test, Jensen replied, “It’s more of an opportunity to learn and reach a growing audience. We believe there is an opportunity to introduce services [to more consumers] and complete their look in some cases and engage with them on many levels.” Nordstrom Locals have stylists on hand, she added.

In addition to having Rent the Runway drop offs at three Nordstrom Local sites, the fourth drop off is at the Nordstrom full-line department store at The Grove. Inside the store, the Rent the Runway “kiosk” is located within the express service area, which in Nordstrom stores are typically situated by the highest trafficked entrance.

Nordstrom will examine customer reactions and data from the collaboration with Rent the Runway before determining whether to add more drop off sites at other Nordstrom locations. “Right now, we are focused on winning customers by providing convenience and easier opportunities to access our services,” Jensen said.

She declined to discuss any financial terms of the association with Rent the Runway.

Nordstrom’s commitment with Rent the Runway is different from how Neiman’s once engaged with Rent the Runway. Three years ago, Rent the Runway opened a 3,000-square-foot shop inside Neiman’s in downtown San Francisco, in an attempt to bring a lower-priced fashion option and additional foot traffic to the store. At the time, Neiman’s said a few more RTR shops would open inside Neiman Marcus doors, but the experiment did not prove fruitful and the San Francisco shop was closed. Instead, Rent the Runway opened its own store on Union Square in San Francisco. The fashion rental company also operates stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington D.C.

Last year, Rent the Runway installed drop-off boxes for returning rented clothes at 15 WeWork locations in six cities. For WeWork, Rent the Runway represents another amenity being provided to tenants, referred to as “members.”

Having drop off points at WeWork and Nordstrom makes it more convenient for those renting clothes from Rent the Runway to return the fashions selected from its web site or stores. The partnerships will also save RTR some costs that would have otherwise been incurred from using a carrier for returns.

It’s also greater exposure to Rent the Runway to have drop off boxes at various sites, and for Nordstrom, the partnership could lead to an increase in store traffic.