Inside Nordstrom Rack’s 1st Edmonton Store

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By Christopher Lui

The long awaited Nordstrom Rack store in Edmonton, Alberta is officially opening on October 25, 2018. The off price store’s opening was first announced back in 2016.

The store is located in the South Edmonton Common power centre. South Edmonton Common is a 2.4-million-square-foot power centre and is owned by Cameron Development Group and operated by CREIT (Canadian Real Estate Investment Trust). The store is situated on a triangular shaped pad flanked by the 19th Avenue Fly Over and Gateway Boulevard. This prime location allows cars travelling north on Gateway Boulevard to see the Nordstrom Rack store from the Highway. Over 200,000 vehicles will pass by the store daily. There are dedicated entrance and exit points that were built to accommodate the traffic flow. The store was built from the ground up starting in spring 2018 and is over 35,000 square feet with 143 dedicated parking stalls.

As the off-price division of Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack offers everyday savings of up to 70% off. The Edmonton location carries an incredible selection of designer and brand name apparel, accessories and shoes for the entire family. There is also a beauty and home section as well. The product assortment is 30% from the main line Nordstrom store and 70% specially purchased product for the store. 38 of the top 50 brands that are available at Nordstrom full line stores are also available at the Edmonton Nordstrom Rack including Ray-Ban, Cole Haan and Theory. Nordstrom has said the store is strategically merchandised by grouping merchandise by gender and category (e.g., jeans, coats, etc.). This allows customers to be more efficient in their shopping and potentially find more treasures.

We were fortunate to be led in a store tour by Nordstrom Rack President, Geevy Thomas and Lauren Adey, Marketing, PR & Social Media for Canada. In the women’s fashion section, brands spotted included Alexander McQueen, Akris Punto, Balenciaga, Burberry, Dries Van Noten, Kenzo, Givenchy and Stella McCartney.

There were loads of designer handbags from both contemporary brands such as Coach, Rebecca Minkoff and Tory Burch as well as designer brands such as Explore Calvin Klein 205W39NYC and Valentino.

For men’s fashions, brands included Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Ted Baker and Zanerobe. With the Athleisure trend still in fashion, the store also carried a wide selection of both men’s and women’s active wear brands including C&C California, Lole and Nike.

The shoe department is stocked with an impressive 27,000 pairs of shoes. For women’s shoes, there is a dedicated designer aisle with brands including Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Tod’s. A unique point of differentiation for men’s shoes is that this location stocks shoes up to Size 16. You do not find such a large range of shoe sizes in many stores.

The beauty section carries both department store brands such as Stila and Korres. The store also features the Grab + Go beauty rounder. This assortment of deluxe sizes of premium beauty products which allows customers the opportunity to try these products without the commitment of buying a full sized product. In addition, if customers are interested in the full sized version, they can purchase the products at a full-line Nordstrom store. This strategy helps to increase customer engagement between all Nordstrom stores.

The Edmonton store represents the newest generation of Nordstrom Rack stores. The fixtures are all on casters so that they can be easily flipped out as the merchandise changes. To assist with moving fixtures quickly and efficiently, the entire store floor is polished concrete. There is wayfinding signage around the entire store to assist customer movement instore as well as to delineate the departments. The wayfinding combines being bold and friendly along with the clean signature Nordstrom Rack look. To align with Nordstrom Rack’s strategy of customer convenience, the fitting rooms are self-service and unisex. Nordstrom notes that fitting rooms are used by over 75% of women with men only accounting for 25% of usage. This allows the fitting rooms to be flexed if there is more demand. Another unique feature is there is an area outside of the fitting rooms with a charging table for those waiting for their parties as they are using the change rooms. There is also complimentary Wi-Fi which helps to make the wait times go faster.

The checkout experience is enhanced as there are mobile checkout stands similar to the technology used by Apple Stores throughout the store, allowing associates to cash out customers from anywhere in the store via a mobile device. The mobile checkout stands align with Nordstrom Rack’s strategy of customer convenience. There is still the traditional checkout stand available for larger orders. There are also new payment methods available at Nordstrom Rack including Alipay and WeChat Pay. This should attract international customers that are shopping in Canada.

The selection of South Edmonton Common as the first Edmonton Nordstrom Rack location is ideal. South Edmonton is an affluent quadrant of Edmonton with an average annual income of $114,794 and a population of over 640,000 people within a 20 minute drive. There is a mix of young families, affluent, middle-aged suburban and exurban families that live in this area. The area population is expected to grow by 7% by 2022. The Edmonton market is unique for Nordstrom as it does not have a full line Nordstrom store. In markets across Canada, there are both Nordstrom Rack stores and Nordstrom Department stores which encourage customers to cross shop the stores. With these demographics and unique product mix, this location could be quite successful and be in the running as a top-selling store. If sales prove successful, this may provide the green light for a full-line Nordstrom store to be built in Edmonton. There are many attractive locations in Edmonton especially due to the bankruptcy of Sears Canada which vacated Southgate Centre. This shopping centre is a premier fashion and lifestyle destination in South Edmonton.

The Edmonton store marks the sixth Nordstrom Rack store in Canada with other stores located in Vaughan Mills in Toronto, One Bloor West in Toronto, Deerfoot Meadows in Calgary, Ottawa Train Yards in Ottawa and Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga. While the company says that it could eventually operate as many as 15 Nordstrom Rack locations in Canada, none have been announced.

Christopher Lui is a Human Resources and Marketing Professional with over 10 years of experience in project management and working on multi-stakeholder projects in both public and private sectors. He has management consulting experience in areas such as strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and change management. An avid shopper and foodie always looking for the next big thing to try. Follow him on Twitter @chrislui01 or LinkedIn at Christopher Lui.

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