Neiman Marcus Focusing on Omnichannel Strategy
Karen Katz, chief executive officer and president of Neiman Marcus Group, told a packed audience at the Oracle Industry Connect conference in Boston yesterday that the specialty retailer is putting a big focus — and a lot of money — into its technology infrastructure.
In fact, the three major areas the company is focusing on now — omnichannel integration, and improving its in-store and e-commerce shopping experiences — “are all tech-based," Katz said.
As for omnichannel initiatives, Katz said, “customers love to shop Neiman Marcus from anywhere in the world, in stores and via e-commerce or with our call-center representatives, and we will continue to improve our ability to get the right items to them conveniently and with a full-service model.” In addition, Katz said the company has recently appointed a senior vice president whose sole focus is on implementing omnichannel strategies.
In that vein, Neiman Marcus has instituted a compensation program that encourages in-store sales associates to drive customers to the web. Simply put, in-store sales associates earn commissions whenever their customers purchase items online.
“We have a robust selection of products online that we don't have room for in our brick-and-mortar stores, such as home furnishings, so we encourage our sales associates to tell customers about this merchandise," said Katz. "The smartest ones are very clever and help their clients with everything they possibly can.”
Mobile is also a big part of Neiman Marcus’ omnichannel focus. The retailer recently launched an app that bridges the gap between its virtual identity and its brick-and-mortar presence. The NM app enables users to search by department to locate or contact sales associates at any Neiman Marcus store via email, text, phone call or FaceTime. Users may also choose to receive advance notice of upcoming store events or special offers.
Mobile fits into Neiman Marcus’ in-store strategy as well. The company outfits all sales associates with iPhones and provides them with training on using its app. Katz said the company plans to invest in more in-store tech programs. “We only have 41 stores, and they are highly productive stores,” Katz said. “But if we invest more tech-based capital into those stores, they can be even more productive.”
Neiman Marcus is also investing resources in growing its e-commerce business. “E-commerce is a billion dollar-plus business for us," Katz said. "In fact, we're the largest luxury e-commerce company in the world. But there's still a lot more we can do to improve this part of our business."
Neiman Marcus’ biggest online challenge? “Replicating online the service our customers receive from in-store sales associates,” Katz said. “When a customer arrives on our site, we need to make sure the site is personalized and that she sees what she wants. We need to make sure she has the same memorable experience [online] as she does in our stores."
Katz announced at the event that Neiman Marcus has selected a suite of Oracle Retail solutions to help it carry out these initiatives.
“Implementing a common merchandising system is the single biggest capital project we've ever done at Neiman Marcus,” Katz said. "We took a long time to decide on Oracle, but we learned a lot by talking to retailers who have done this before. We could have done this on our own, but after our research we decided Oracle would be the best partner for us."