Nordstrom Inc. continues to invest in new shopping models. The retailer is expanding its partnership with Shoes of Prey, a start-up that allows women to customize their shoes. The leading retailer has rolled out Shoes of Prey in-store design studios in six U.S. stores to date. The brand, which is also available on, offers a virtual design experience that places the control in the hands of the customer. Shoppers use iPads while in store to customize their selection, selecting from hundreds of different styles, colors, materials, and heel heights.

Looking ahead, Nordstrom and Shoes of Prey plan to accelerate future expansion into new products, starting with women’s handbags. With personalization becoming more important to how the customer views good service, it’s important for retailers to find opportunities to stay relevant. This type of custom design capability could prove a crucial competitive differentiator for Nordstrom.

Nordstrom Inc. began as a shoe retailer in 1901 and has since expanded its offerings to include apparel, accessories, handbags, jewelry, cosmetics, and fragrances. Select Nordstrom stores also have wedding and home furnishing departments. Nordstrom Inc. serves customers online in 96 countries through,, and flash-sale site HauteLook.

From the beginning, Nordstrom has been known for its high level of customer service, and that includes all methods of shopping. Nordstrom’s app is personalized and allows the consumer to buy online by easily scanning a credit card. While in Nordstrom stores, consumers can use the app to easily locate items and scan tags for product reviews and availability. The high-end retailer offers free shipping and free returns anytime. The company’s customers are fully satisfied and voted them a winner. An annual survey of return policies by rated Nordstrom as offering the best return policies of 2015. L.L. Bean which is known to refund, exchange, or replace used items was number two in the survey.

Nordstrom continues to stay ahead of its competitors by launching new technologies and using social media to engage its customers. In May of this year Nordstrom launched TextStyle, a way for customers to make curated purchases from their salesperson or personal stylist using text messaging. Nordstrom was the first retail company in the U.S. to offer customers the ability to shop and buy with a text message. Nordstrom started allowing shoppers to buy goods from its Instagram page last summer. From the customer side of things, all they have to do is like the product they want to buy and click on the Like2Buy link to purchase. Retailers like Nordstrom have turned what was purely a branding tool into a full-fledged e-commerce platform.

According to an annual analysis by audience intelligence provider Shareable, which reviewed the social media performance of big-box and department store retailers in the lead up to Black Friday (from November 1st to 24th), Nordstrom came in first in social engagement with 2.3 million actions. The retailer accomplished this for the second consecutive year, increasing its actions 119% over last year. Sephora scored second overall. Amazon’s social engagement dropped 65% compared to last year, letting the company fall out of the top 10 from the number two spot in 2014.

The innovative retailer that is leading its industry in many ways is a family owned company. Earlier this year Nordstrom Inc. announced Blake Nordstrom, Pete Nordstrom, and Erik Nordstrom as Co-Presidents of the company. Having multiple Presidents is not common practice for most retailers, but for this family owned and operated company it makes sense. Retaining family leadership can help ensure consistency. It seems to be working for 115 year-old retailer.