Neiman Marcus Tests Catalog Showrooms

Upscale cataloger/retailer Neiman Marcus is testing what could be considered a dinosaur of a concept: catalog showroom marketing. Since February, the Plano, TX-based company has set aside 2,000 sq. ft. in its Oak Brook, IL, and Plano stores to best-selling products from its three catalogs: the namesake book, Horchow, and Chef’s Catalog. Early in-store sales results have met expectations.

Items shown include bathroom sinks, rugs, linens, pots, toasters, and other items not ordinarily offered in Neiman Marcus stores. The showrooms allow customers to view and order the products right there. In addition, Neiman Marcus has racks of its catalogs in customer service areas of the two stores.

Although Neiman Marcus has yet to indicate how long it will test the showrooms or if it will expand the test to other stores, a spokesperson says she expects the test to run at least a year. But judging by early results, that could easily be extended or expanded. “It’s been doing very well, we’ve met our goals in both stores; it’s been a real positive thing,” she says.

To encourage orders while customers are in the stores, Neiman Marcus is currently offering a 10% discount. The stores “can place any orders and do all the research,” the spokesperson says. “Then the customer gets the discount.”

Neiman Marcus chose the two stores for their diverse locations. The Plano store, near Dallas, caters to a younger suburban clientele, while the Oak Brook store is in a Chicago suburb with a more mature demographic.

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