Nordstrom’s upcoming Manhattan women’s flagship, set to open in late October, will be “a great example of our focus on local markets,” Erik Nordstrom, copresident of the Seattle-based retailer, said Tuesday, at the Cowen and Company annual “Future of the Consumer Conference.”
Nordstrom also said the women’s flagship will be the company’s “most technologically enabled store with a lot of services we haven’t announced yet that we are working on.”
The 320,000-square-foot, seven-level Nordstrom women’s flagship is located at 225 West 57th Street at the base of Central Park Tower which, with 95 floors, is the tallest luxury residential building in the world. The flagship is being constructed with two levels below ground and five above ground. The retail space varies from floor to floor.
Nordstrom said the flagship isn’t just about opening a huge store. “It’s about how do we take advantage of the market opportunities,” including the fact that New York City is Nordstrom’s largest online market.
Across the street on Broadway, Nordstrom has been operating its only men’s specialty store since April 2018. Nordstrom decided to open the men’s store before the women’s store because the site was available and because “we wanted to get some learnings under our belt” to apply to the women’s store.
So what has been learned so far from the Manhattan men’s experience? First, according to Nordstrom, business has been very strong in designer lines and Topman, the trendy U.K. brand Nordstrom sells in many locations and online.
“We have from Vans to Valentino. That breadth is important to us to create an inclusive, welcoming environment,” said Nordstrom. The store has the biggest men’s designer business in the company.
Nordstrom’s express return service, enabling customers to return online orders to the store, is also a hit. According to Nordstrom, the majority of customers would rather drop off a return rather than mail it back. It makes a “significant difference” to get returns back as fast as possible, Nordstrom added.
Nordstrom has also learned that each month, women make up approximately 50 percent of shoppers in the men’s store; that customers are responding to experiences like the Murdock London barbers and 24/7 buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), and that women tend to use the men’s store as “a service hub.” That’s reminiscent of the three recently opened Nordstrom Local units operating in California providing a litany of services from BOPIS to alterations; reserve online, try on in the store; gift wrapping, curbside pickup and dry cleaning.
With the women’s flagship opening, Nordstrom concludes almost a decade of heavy cap-ex spending that included expansion into Canada, the HauteLook and Trunk Club acquisitions, digital growth, technologies, and the Manhattan store projects. With the Manhattan women’s flagship representing “the last big check,” Nordstrom shifts to renewed efforts to drive productivity, scale and efficiencies. Nordstrom expects those past big investments to break even by 2022. Two years ago, it was reported Nordstrom was spending $500 million on the store, but the tab has likely gone up since.
“As we look at the women’s tower, building from the ground up is one of the advantages,” Nordstrom said, noting the flagship will have high ceilings (19 feet), big floor plates, and a total glass facade for views into the store from the street, and views of the outside from indoors. That way the store feels “connected” to the city, Nordstrom said. “Architecturally, it will be quite stunning.”
He expects a large portion of purchases will be delivered from the store, rather than carried out by customers. “There are some terrific hyperlocalized delivery services we are starting to work with.”
“We have been looking a long time at New York,” Nordstrom noted. In fact, it goes back to when his father, Bruce Nordstrom, was 35 and first considered the prospect of a New York City store. His dad is 85 now.