Neiman Marcus Goes Online for Maternity Sales

Discussion
Mar 28, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Neiman Marcus is discovering the joys of motherhood online.


The luxury retailer doesn’t have maternity shops in its stores but it identified a market opportunity and added one to its web site.


Ginger Reeder, vice president for Neiman Marcus, told The Dallas Morning News, “When the timing is right for something like this, we can do it online.”


“That’s the beauty of the Internet. We can try a whole classification of merchandise, and we’re not taking as big a risk as putting it in all the stores,” she added.


The online store, said Ms. Reeder, “is meeting expectations” since it was first launched last month.


In true Neiman Marcus style, the low end of the retailer’s pricing is $48 for a t-shirt. At the top end of its maternity clothing line is a $390 metallic pleated gown. The online store also sells related products such as strollers and layettes. 


Moderator’s Comment: Are more retailers using online stores as a testing ground for product categories before moving them into physical locations? Are
some product lines, depending on the retailer and the customers who shop in its stores, better suited to an online only presence?

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7 Comments on "Neiman Marcus Goes Online for Maternity Sales"


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M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 11 months ago

On a hunch, I asked a plus-sized female relative if she ever felt tempted to shop in maternity-wear stores. She confirmed that she did and had, but that it was a bit embarrassing. “Definitely,” she said, “this works better for me online.” Neiman Marcus may find themselves in the high-end, plus-size business in a way they didn’t expect.

One of the beauties of online retailing is the absence of customer categorization. Conventional retailers tend to select their customers – through ads, location, price points, etc. – while online shoppers select themselves. Important to this notion, however, is recognition of the silliness of ideas like the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 research referenced above. Each customer reserves the right to shop in more than one way, and nearly all of them do if given the opportunity.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Furniture and home decor are areas that lend themselves to online success. Consumers who are loyal to a brand (be it store-as-brand or label) can expand their options by going online and retailers can save their bricks space for other categories. I see impressive and unique online assortments on Target.com in particular.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 11 months ago

Smart marketing test, and a good chance for sustaining
the business via the internet.

By the way, this isn’t limited to the affluent retailers
only! Hardware chains, mass merchandisers and specialty
food shops could do the same as N-M. Consumers just want to acquire a special product or a small
group of loyal shoppers want access to a not-so-big niche
category.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

The most recent research I’ve heard says that 1/3 of a company’s customers like shopping in the store, 1/3 of a company’s customers like shopping using the phone, and 1/3 of a company’s customers like shopping on the Internet. If you can identify which third of your customers like shopping online and if you can offer them products they want that are different from the products in the store, and if you can create a cost-effective supply chain, then you have a great formula for success.

Craig Johnson
Guest
Craig Johnson
14 years 11 months ago

Wow…I would never ask a “plus sized relative” if she had considered shopping in the maternity clothes. But that’s just me.

Catherine Sleep
Guest
Catherine Sleep
14 years 11 months ago

This is a strategy which has already worked well for Next in the UK. Its popular maternity line is only available in its very largest stores and through its directory (paper or online). It’s not hard to see why maternity works well online, as shoppers don’t need to be quite as fussy about achieving the perfect fit. They’re buying clothes that will necessarily have to adapt to their changing shape, so trying them on is not so important. Furthermore, in the later months of pregnancy at least, lumbering around shopping centres becomes less attractive and online shopping more so.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Certainly J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Staples, and Home Depot list many items online that are unavailable in their stores. Sometimes listing the item online is the only way to sell it profitably, due to shelf space or logistical issues. Some online-only items are shipped directly from their suppliers. Some have such poor margins that store overheads would erase any possible profit. Expanding the online assortment allows greater dominance and might unearth some unexpected trends and winners.

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