December 9, 2013, 12:08 PM

Nordstrom and Blue Nile tie the knot in a store-to-web partnership

Shoppers can try on pricey rings in Nordstrom stores and buy them on BlueNile.com.

Lead Photo

The Blue Nile try-on counter at Nordstrom.

See the bling before buying the ring. That’s the impetus behind a new deal between high-end department store Nordstrom Inc. and web-only jewelry retailer Blue Nile Inc.

Realizing that many brides and grooms would like to examine an engagement or wedding ring in person before committing to it, the two retailers are testing allowing shoppers to try on selected Blue Nile wedding jewelry in Nordstrom stores before buying online at BlueNile.com. The service is available now at Nordstrom’s flagship store in downtown Seattle, where Blue Nile representatives are on hand to answer questions and place orders online for shoppers. Both retailers are based in Seattle.

The program launched last month and is part of a six-month pilot. Shoppers can try on about 75 engagement rings and 40 wedding bands worth up to $20,000, a Blue Nile spokesman says.

“We have iPads at the display in the store and customers may work with one of our non-commissioned diamond and jewelry consultants to create and purchase a ring,” the spokesman says. “However, the rings physically inside the case are for display only.” He would not reveal the financial arrangement between Blue Nile and Nordstrom for the program.

The program is the latest in a string of web-only retailers showing off their wares to shoppers in physical stores. Custom men’s suits e-retailer Indochino has been going offline to sell to customers in major cities for the past two years. Its “travelling tailor” service sets up shop in a new city for two to three weeks at a time, allowing men to check out fabrics and styles and have an expert take their suit measurements. The retailer saves a customer’s measurements in his online profile so that he can shop or reorder online, knowing his suit will fit once delivered. 

Subscription retailer JustFab.com, which until recently sold only online, in September unveiled its first bricks-and-mortar store, in Los Angeles. JustFab members can get the same discounted prices in the store as they do online, while walk-in shoppers pay a premium. If store shoppers want membership prices, they can enroll in the store. 

A member, who pays $39.95 a month, can log in and use that fee to buy one item among several JustFab has selected for her, buy more for $39.95 each or ask to skip the month and not be charged. Non-subscribers pay between $49 to $69 per item. JustFab, which generated $100 million in sales last year, says it is on track to grow sales to $250 million this year.

Nordstrom is No. 28 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, BlueNile.com is No. 74 and JustFab is No. 201.

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