Nordstrom acquisitions solidify cross-channel personalization

Nordstrom store front facing mall
Nordstrom makes technology acquisitions to help with personalization. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

Nordstrom announced two acquisitions to further its investment in technology and the customer experience. The chain has closed a deal to acquire two leading retail technology companies: BevyUp, a digital selling tool, and MessageYes, a conversational commerce platform. 

"The retail environment is changing faster than ever, but the value of service, speed, convenience and newness remain constant," said Brian Gill, technology senior vice president at Nordstrom. "To continue to be successful into the future, we need to invest in technologies that will enable us to deliver on those qualities and better serve customers in a digitally connected world."

Nordstrom is investing in salespeople by giving them a mobile suite of capabilities to help them better serve customers. BevyUp is uniquely positioned to help with this goal through a new mobile employee app that will be rolled out in the coming year. 

RELATED: Nordstrom ranks as top fashion retailer

With MessageYes, Nordstrom will be able to add to its existing depth of talent and experience in engineering, data science and machine learning, all with the end goal of personalizing customer experiences. 

Nordstrom has always prided itself as being a leader in customer engagement and places high importance on providing exceptional customer service. So these acquisitions "speak to their commitment of providing superior service as they start to personalize the shopping experience and sync their online and digital efforts with their in-store experience and sales," Tom O’Keefe, president and CEO of 4-Tell, told FierceRetail. "The integration of digital technology will enable employees to engage and communicate with consumers consistently across numerous channels, while providing comprehensive, tailored recommendations—leading to a personalized shopping experience and increased customer loyalty and revenue—both online and in-store."

O'Keefe also predicts that with the consolidation of online and offline customer data, Nordstrom will next begin implementing technology in-store, such as arming sales associates with mobile technology that allows them to reference individual customer data in real time. 

"As digital technology continues to redefine the retail industry, I think you will see Nordstrom—and other industry-leading brands—double-down on digital technology that enables a unified and personalized customer experience," he added. 

RELATED: Nordstrom discusses going private

But like with any acquisition, there will be challenges. Currently, Nordstrom does not show in-store purchases, only those made online, in a customer profile. So in order to make personalization feel authentic, shopper data must be harmonized across all channels, O'Keefe says.

"Syncing data across multiple channels can be challenging, which is an obstacle Nordstrom will likely face when integrating retail technology across their various properties including HauteLook, TrunkClub and The Nordstrom Rack. The task of implementing two technical solutions across multiple properties may take some time before shoppers notice a seamless, customized experience," he said.

Nordstrom seems to be the first big department store chain making a concerted push into retail technology, but O'Keefe says others will follow, namely Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.  Nordstrom is a pioneer in this journey to create a "hyper-personalized shopping experience." Over time, says O'Keefe, the entire e-commerce and in-store experiences will be centralized around the shopper. 

"Not only will the implementation of retail technology build customer loyalty and long-term value for brands, it will also help to increase revenue, restore retail operating margins, support merchandising decisions, and decrease employee turnover internally," he added. 

Acquisitions such as this one signal the future of retail—an industry driven by data and committed to personalized shopping. 

"With the power of data at our fingertips, retailers will be able to identify their most loyal shoppers and collaborate with them in real-time across multiple channels—both physical and digital," O'Keefe said. "Dynamic, data-driven merchandising and an efficient human connection will offer these retailers the best chance to survive the changing market conditions."