Neiman Marcus launches virtual hub as customers remain wary of indoor shopping #SmallBiz - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Neiman Marcus launches virtual hub as customers remain wary of indoor shopping #SmallBiz

Dive Brief:

  • Neiman Marcus on Tuesday announced the launch of "Your Neiman's," a digital hub offering personalized "luxury services and experiences," designed in part to help customers work around limits imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Customers can make appointments for in-store shopping or curbside pickup, work with a stylist via video, and learn about fashion and cooking through virtual events, according to a company press release.

  • Since March, its proprietary tool, NM Connect, has enabled stylists to provide services while stores were shuttered, per the release. The department store uses a quiz about preferences to match a customer with a stylist, and consultations can occur via text, email, video chat or in person. 

Dive Insight:

Since Katie Mullen's arrival over a year ago as Neiman Marcus Group's digital chief, the department store has piloted and expanded its virtual styling services, and that's coming in handy during the pandemic. 

The company this week opened another 13 stores to "full traffic," but with consumers wary of shopping indoors, the option is a way for Neiman to stay in touch without anyone touching a thing. 

On Tuesday the company said that 4,900 associates, stylists, and managers at both namesake Neiman Marcus and its Bergdorf Goodman banner now use digital tools to engage with customers, who over three months have spent more than $60 million. NM Connect has hosted more than 1.5 million engagements since its starting in March.

While data is important to this effort, the department store aims to provide the kind of human interaction and high level of personal service that its customers expect at its physical locations, Mullen told Retail Dive earlier this year.

"The sales associate can see what the data can see and the data can see what the sales associate sees," she said, noting then that one customer had recently bought a $200,000 pair of earrings remotely. "We don't envision a world where it's one or the other. Luxury is always about the interpersonal dynamics and the relationship with the customer. It's not for us at all that automation or AI will do all the work."

The retailer is expanding its virtual services but possibly shrinking its footprint as it works to get out of bankruptcy. That process so far has been somewhat choppy, although the company last month reiterated that it expects to complete the process by fall.

via by Daphne Howland, Khareem Sudlow