May 17, 2006, 12:00 AM

Nordstrom combines systems to bolster multi-channel retailing

The multi-channel retailer is in the first year of a three-year program to combine its entire product inventory into one back-end system that supports Nordstrom’s network of 156 stores, catalog and Nordstrom.com.

Nordstrom Inc. is combining inventory management systems for its web site, catalog and stores to bolster its multi-channel retail program.

The company is in the first year of a three-year program to combine its entire product inventory into one back-end system that supports Nordstrom’s network of 156 stores, catalog and Nordstrom.com. It’s performing the work in house. “We need to align inventory with the Retek system our stores are on,” says a Nordstrom spokeswoman. “Direct has been using the Ecometry system, which has become outdated.”

On another front, Nordstrom now is publishing one catalog that includes the inventory for all channels rather than separate editions for its stores and direct channels. “In 2005 Nordstrom’s direct and store catalogs were rolled into one catalog,” the spokeswoman says. “The catalog program is an important part of the company’s goal to make shopping at Nordstrom a seamless experience for its customers. Today catalogs are sent monthly to customers and serve to drive business to stores, phones and the web site.”

Nordstrom considers the new initiatives to be an important component of its multi-channel retail program, which also includes buy-online/return-to-store. Nordstrom, No. 40 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, grew e-commerce sales substantially in 2005. In its recently filed 10K report, Nordstrom says 2005 web sales increased by 40.7%; it did not break out specific web sales totals. Total company sales increased 8.3% to $7.7 billion from $7.1 billion in 2004.

Nordstrom notes it spends about $150 million each year supporting and upgrading back-end and e-commerce systems. “Our goal is to create a seamless experience so that we have a companywide view of inventory,” the spokeswoman says. “We also are in the process of updating the warehouse management system so direct channels and the fulfillment center are on a single system.”

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