Nordstrom is streamlining its buying and assortment process and using technology for the shift.
The Seattle-based upscale department store has formed a partnership with NuOrder, a b-to-b e-commerce platform automating the buying and assortment planning between retailers and wholesalers.
Based in Los Angeles and founded in 2011, NuOrder will provide Nordstrom and their supplier brands with a platform “enabling collaboration, assortment selection and enhanced visibility into product,” said Olivia Skuza, cofounder and co-chief executive officer of NuOrder. “It’s an exclusive version of our platform. We worked on it since the beginning of the year. Partnering with Nordstrom is a natural fit for us and for the brands on our platform. We did a deep dive into Nordstrom’s business to identify the process — premarket, in market and post market. This is a product built working in conjunction with Nordstrom.”
The platform provides sales teams and buyers a central place to browse products and catalogues, access up-to-the minute sales and inventory data, and place orders from their computer or via the NuOrder mobile app across a spectrum of merchandise, including designer ready-to-wear, sportswear, denim, home, gifts, beauty, active, footwear, kids and babies, as well as some categories that Nordstrom doesn’t sell, such as electronics and furniture.
It’s helpful to divisional and general merchandise managers seeking a perspective on what’s been purchased by buyers across different categories, to see, for example, if the right trends and price points are being emphasized, and what holes in the merchandising need to be filled. The platform is also geared to relieve much of the manual labor and tedium associated with placing orders, and to reduce on-site follow-ups and sampling.
From the brands’ perspective, NuOrder is a visual merchandising tool to digitally showcase products and personalize presentations to Nordstrom buyers, with different themes, products and collections.
NuOrder has more than 850 brands on its platform, including Coach, Asics, Lacoste, Levi’s, Shiseido, Toms, Spanx, Ted Baker, and Theory, and has driven $15 billion worth of merchandise at retail since its launch, according to the company. Many brands on NuOrder sell Nordstrom but more will have to join the platform to accommodate the retailer. Brands pay an annual subscription fee based on their size to be on NuOrder and they invite retailers to the platform. There’s no fee to retailers to use the platform.
“For brands, NuOrder can increase sales and operational efficiency. For retailers, NuOrder facilitates better planning and better discovery so they can be a lot smarter on how they buy,” said Skuza. “Buyers don’t have to worry about having their heads down in Excel and taking handwritten notes.”
NuOrder is owned by Skuza, co-ceo Heath Wells, and investors Argentum, Upfront Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Cowboy Ventures, Novel TMT and Box Group. Previously, the ceo’s worked on digital strategies and digital advertising for brands and retailers.
Nordstrom is the first major retailer on the NuOrder platform, which means switching out of their own systems that brands had adopted to. Thousands of mom-and-pop stores have been utilizing NuOrder in large part because they have limited travel budgets to get to showrooms.
NuOrder does have competitors, including the New York-based Joor, another b-to-b digital wholesale marketplace.
“We’re excited to partner with NuOrder and leverage their capabilities such as a digital market tool,” said Teri Bariquit, executive vice president merchandise planning, inventory and solutions at Nordstrom. “Having a tool with shared visual information allows buyers and brands to work much more effectively together.”
Below, a Q&A with Nordstrom’s Bariquit on the partnership with NuOrder.
WWD: Why did you choose NuOrder?
Teri Bariquit: Our selection of NuOrder really came down to two things — feedback from the pilot we conducted with our buying teams and NuOrder’s speed and flexibility to evolve its tool to further meet our needs. Our buying teams were quick to learn and adopt the market tool and had positive experiences, seeing immediate benefits during and post-market appointment, as they finalized their assortment.
WWD: What are the advantages?
T.B.: The advantages we’re experiencing with the NuOrder market tool include streamlined communication between Nordstrom and brand partners, digital previews of the brand’s offer in advance of market appointments, reduced errors on product information and the enablement of real-time data exchange as product changes are made after market appointments until the product is available to sell.
WWD: Does it make the job of buying easier? If so, how so?
T.B.: The NuOrder market tool digitally enables the market offer, making it more visual and flexible to see how the assortment is coming together. This will help the buying experience for buyers and brand partners become more efficient and productive.
WWD: Are all buyers using the system or just in certain categories, and will others be added?
T.B.: We are deploying the market tool to all full-priced buyers across Nordstrom.
WWD: How many of your brands that you sell are on the NuOrder platform?
T.B.: We’re still in the very early stages of adopting this platform and don’t have any specifics to share around brand participation at this time.
WWD: Are you asking all of your brands to be on the NuOrder platform?
T.B.: We are encouraging all of our full-priced brands to participate in the program for their work with Nordstrom.
WWD: Do they have to be?
T.B.: We are highly encouraging our brand partners to participate as there is great benefit for both Nordstrom and the brands to operate with more efficiency and accuracy.
WWD: Does this replace showroom visits, or is it more a method to place orders following showroom visits?
T.B.: Showroom visits will continue to play an integral part of the buying process. The market tool enhances this experience and allows the buyer to focus on the most important aspects of being in the market — curating the best assortments for our customers.