Neiman Marcus Prepares for the Customer of the Future

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Neiman Marcus told attendees at eTail West that the focus in 2018 is on making innovation part of its DNA as it seeks new, creative ways to connect the online and in-store experience for its upscale customers.

“The focus over the last five years has been about brick-and-mortar, because it was a great opportunity for us,” said Scott Emmons, Head of the Innovation Lab at Neiman Marcus. “We didn’t have any customer-facing technology in our stores beyond point of sale but had a very mature online business, being an early adopter of digital.”

Emmons said when Neiman Marcus launched its ecommerce business in the 1990s, it generated about $5,000 in sales in a month. It has grown into a billion-dollar-plus business for the company, representing 33% of total revenue.

“My focus from an innovation standpoint shifts more to the digital side as time passes,” said Emmons.  “Early on we were trying to leverage the digital capabilities that the online business gave us and try bring that capabilities into the store. Now we’re looking at how to do we do things we’ve been great at for 110 years.”

The innovation lab is working on a few projects to bring digital to the forefront of the business, starting with a Fort Worth, TX store that opened in 2017 as a model. Neiman Marcus provides associates there with iPhones that light up when a customer needs service in the fitting rooms using a service button.

“It’s pretty simple, not super high-tech but compared to what was in the fitting rooms before, which was no technology whatsoever it’s a start, we consider this the 1.0,” Emmons said.

The new setup allows capabilities like product recommendations and outfitting in store, things you might expect in an online experience only.

Neiman Marcus launched a fashion memory mirror in its store, a 70-inch screen that allows shoppers to create an eight-second video showing a full circle view of an outfit.

If a customer tries on multiple items, she can create a library on the mirror and decide at the end of the session which one looks best. The company also launched a similar concept with a sunglass try-on mirror, through a partnership with Luxottica. Neiman Marcus also launched a digital memory makeover mirror, which records makeover sessions.

“Our associates now have an amazing CRM record with the customers detailing what products she tried and what samples she took home with her,” Emmons said. “It’s a tool that helps both sides.”

Other innovations in the Fort Worth store include gift galleries, digital directories and a Rock Bot app which lets customers hear a customized playlist. The company also has charging stations that double as a marketing touchpoint.

“We can send you a text after you’ve used the machine, if there was something relevant about the store,” said Emmons. “What pays the bill on these things is, we can figure out you are someone we have never seen before and get a new customer acquisition.”

On the ecommerce side, “Snap, Find, Shop” allows Neiman Marcus customers to take a product anywhere and find its match using the Neiman Marcus app.

“[It’s] Shazam for search,” Emmons said. “You take a picture of the things you want and we’ll go find the things we have that are like that. It’s amazing technology, and we’re really proud we got that in for our mobile app.”

Other innovations for ecommerce includes Inside by PowerFront, a visual chat tool that presents avatars to chat agents showing where the customer is on the website by clicking on them. They can also see their cart as well as past interactions.

Neiman Marcus has also partnered with Amazon to enable voice shopping via Alexa, with plans to do the same soon via Google Home.

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