December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Paired-up strategy

By Nicole Grasse, T.J. Becker

Editor in Chief

Famous for its TLC of customers in the offline world, Nordstrom is challenged to make its approach to clicks no different from bricks.

Anecdotally at least, so far, so good: Pamela Stubing, a retail consultant at Ernst & Young in New York, recently placed an order with Nordstrom.com that was kicked back because her credit card could not be processed. A customer service rep called Stubing to verify the account information, then apologized for the inconvenience by waiving the shipping charges.

Nordstrom.com earns other praise for merchandising decisions that value a shopper’s time. For instance, the site features a streamlined “best of casual” selection rather than overwhelming its customers with scroll upon scroll of goods. And it backs up its decision to carry fewer items by giving customers more details. “Nordstrom gives you a lot of information without slowing the shopper down,” says Duif Calvin at IXL.

Bringing that approach to the retailer’s next venture will require even more skill with a far bigger product selection. In a return to its roots, Nordstrom launched a separate shoe site this fall. At Nordstromshoes.com shoppers can tiptoe through styles by Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Via Spiga and others. Shoes account for nearly a third of Nordstrom’s catalog sales, and the new site will offer some 20 million pairs.

Now that’s an inventory.

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