Retail Love in the Age of Digital

When I worked at Nordstrom, I was a Vice President. And on the first day of our three big annual sales events, I had to work in a store.

It was my job to make sure stuff was in stock, and to make sure merchandise was presented properly. Under my purview, the display illustrated here was unacceptable ... it was my job to fix it. And if I didn't fix it, the department manager or store manager would walk over and hand my rear end to me as a lovely parting gift.

The Department Manager loved the presentation of merchandise in her department. She felt like the presentation was a reflection upon her - if it looked sloppy (as illustrated above), then she felt the presentation was a direct reflection of her lack of love for her department.

Then it would be 11:30am and I would already be tired, but I'd still be hustling all over the place ... and then a member of the Nordstrom Family would walk by and thank me for working in the store on the first day of a sale event.

In other words, the department manager had support.
  • A geeky Vice President of Database Marketing was making sure merchandise was presented properly.
  • A member of the Nordstrom Family walked the floors of the store to make sure that the retail experience conveyed love.
Today, the digital gurus hold the megaphone. They shout at my retail clients, demanding "engaging" and "relevant" and "personalized" digital experiences that they perceive will drive customers into stores.

Let's say that the digital expert actually causes a customer to get in her car and drive twenty minutes to a store.

What happens to the customer when s/he is presented with the pile of pants above? And what happens to the digital marketing guru when the customer is presented with the pile of pants above? The digital marketing guru looks bad - his/her metrics look terrible - it's "his/her" fault.

But it isn't "his/her" fault.

The digital marketer has every right to walk into this store and demand flawless execution ... or at minimum, demand that somebody love this store.