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Extended-form Case Study
The Nordstrom way of survival
Published on April 27, 2022 11 min
A selection of talks on Strategy
Hello. Welcome to the Nordstrom Way to Survival. I am Robert Spector, and I'm going to be telling you about the US-based Nordstrom Department Store and how they've been able to stay relevant for way more than a century.
I grew up in a small family business. My parents had a butcher shop and an outdoor farmers market in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where I grew up. I eventually became a business journalist and have been covering business for many publications for many years. I'm a best-selling author and I'll be talking to you about the books I've written on Nordstrom and Amazon.com. For more than 25 years, I've been an international speaker; I've spoken in 27 countries on the topic I'll be speaking about today. I've been writing and speaking about Nordstrom for 38 years.
In today's talk, I'm going to be talking about some very simple, but crucial things: innovation and adaptation, because ultimately they equal survival for any kind of organization and a whole lot of communication. Without communication, none of this innovation and adaptation can happen.
Before I go into detail, I want to answer the big question; who is this company called Nordstrom? Nordstrom was founded in 1901 in Downtown Seattle as a modest little shoe store. They eventually became the biggest independent shoe retailer in the United States. In 1963, in order to give other opportunities for younger family members moving up, they expanded into apparel, first in women's wear, eventually, in men's wear and children's wear. In 1971, it became a publicly-traded company. So they've been on the New York Stock Exchange for 50 years. Over the 120 years, four generations of family leadership have led the way at the company. There are currently two brothers of the fourth generation running it today. They have 354 stores in 40 US states and three Canadian provinces. They have 100 full-line stores. These are the classic large stores that anchor major shopping malls where they can be found in major cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, Canada. There are 247 Nordstrom Rack off-price stores, so the items that do not sell in the full-line store are sent to the Nordstrom Rack stores. They have 60,000 employees all over North America. In 96 countries, customers order from Nordstrom.com or Nordstrom Rack.com. In 2020, they had sales of close to $16 billion.