People shop at the Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Va., Friday, Dec. 22, 2017.

Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

To Survive, Brick-And-Mortar Stores Should Take Cues From Their Online Rivals

April 10, 2018

So far, 2018 does not seem to be a great time for retail. Consider some of the big-name bankruptcies from the last four months: Nine West, Toys R Us, Claire's, The Walking Company.

In the midst of all that, Nordstrom is making a bold gamble: opening not only another retail store, but a giant retail store in midtown Manhattan, one of the nation's most expensive real estate markets.

Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn says Nordstrom's move is a sign that — paraphrasing the great Mark Twain — the reports of retail's demise are greatly exaggerated.

"The story is more complicated than 'brick-and-mortar is over and dying,'" Koehn told Boston Public Radio Tuesday.

Koehn said Nordstrom is taking some of the elements consumers like most about online shopping — like 24-hour availability and wide selection — and incorporating them into their brick-and-mortar retail experience. The new Nordstrom store will feature 24-hour in-store pick-up for items ordered online, among other amenities.

"I think what we're seeing is ... people simply demanding more from stores than a lot of stores have historically handed customers, including better service [and] better selection," she added.

Click the audio player above to listen to the entire interview with Nancy Koehn. 


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