Nordstrom snaps up tech startups to fuel mobile shopping

Dive Brief:

  • Nordstrom announced it has acquired retail technology companies BevyUp, provider of a digital selling tool, and MessageYes, an enabler of conversational commerce, in separate deals to fuel its ongoing digital and mobile strategies, according to a Nordstrom press release.
  • BevyUp’s platform, which uses Style Boards to enable personalized shopping interactions between store associates and customers via mobile, will become part of a new, integrated mobile app for store employees that Nordstrom is planning to launch in the coming year.
  • The MessageYes platform allows retailers and brands to send personalized product recommendations, powered by artificial intelligence and human-assisted AI, through mobile messaging.

Dive Insight:

These acquisitions represent the latest turn of events in what has already been a wild March for Nordstrom. The department store operator started off the month with a positive quarterly earnings report, showing sales up more than 8% in the fourth quarter of 2017 over the year before. Then, earlier this week, Nordstrom reportedly rejected an offer from its founding family to privatize the retailer, the latest turn in a saga that has been playing out for many months now.

The notion that Nordstrom is actively investing in and working to upgrade its approach to mobile shopping should not go unnoticed. The deals fit with Nordstrom’s ongoing efforts to integrate its physical and digital shopping experiences as much as possible, something it has already strived to do with mobile app features like a reserve online/try on in-store capability launched in 2016.

Earlier generations of retailer mobile apps allowed some basic searching and browsing shopping functions, and more recent generations have been able to provide much richer experiences and greater value through the inclusion of features like Nordstrom’s in-store reservation function and the augmented reality capabilities being worked into other retailers’ mobile apps.

But as customers have come to demand more personalized treatment from retailers, another mobile evolution is set to begin. It may be time for retailers to acknowledge that their mobile apps (or websites, or voice assistants) should become their primary vehicles for providing more personalized shopping experiences for customers, including more personal and direct communication between store associates and customers.

Nordstrom isn’t the only retailer recognizing this. Tom Gehani, director of client strategy at L2, a company that benchmarks digital performance of brands, told Retail Dive that the combination of technologies provided by the two companies Nordstrom acquired is similar to capabilities provided by Salesfloor, a technology provider that has worked with Saks and other retailers to put better mobile selling tools in the hands of store associates. “It’s likely that instead of using a shared SaaS platform, Nordstrom instead wants to bring that tech talent in-house as a differentiator,” Gehani said.

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