Nordstrom recently began testing a collection of merchandise from Blue Nile, the online-only jeweler, displayed in a case at its flagship store in downtown Seattle. Mechandise, however, is for display only, with all purchases made through bluenile.com with the assistance of an on-site Blue Nile representative.
For Blue Nile, having a retail presence in Nordstrom's Wedding Suite helps build brand awareness but also enables brides and grooms a chance to physically see the product before making a purchase. Shoppers can try on 75 engagement rings and 40 wedding bands worth up to $20,000.
The test will last six months with the potential to expand to Nordstrom's 17 other Wedding Suite Salons across the country.
"We're definitely looking at this well beyond the holiday period," Julie Yoakum, chief merchandising officer at Blue Nile, told The Seattle Times. "The hope would be to expand to other Wedding Suites."
Several reports pointed to how Amazon, Google, Piperlime, Warby Parker, Indochino, Justfab and other e-tailers have opened temporary pop-ups for the holiday or even permanent stores to similarly increase brand awareness and let consumers try products. However, it's rare for an e-tailer to open inside a brick and mortar store.
Besides the rent it may receive, Nordstrom is said to benefit from traffic that could support its wedding gown and gifts categories as well as potentially extend its reach to avid e-commerce shoppers. Nordstrom has been particularly aggressive in investing in its own e-commerce capabilities, while buying flash-sale website HauteLook in 2011 and, the following year, acquiring a minority stake in Bonobos, a custom-made men's clothier.
Similar to the Blue Nile set-up, more than 100 Nordstrom doors contain Bonobos kiosks.
Shea Jensen, national weddings director at Nordstrom, told the Seattle Times, of the Blue Nile partnership, "For us, the most exciting thing is the opportunity to meet new customers and introduce them to the Wedding Suite."
What's the likelihood that brick and mortar stores outside of the luxury segment will display goods for niche e-tailers similar to what Nordstrom has done?