Do you know the stores without stock? we tell you how they can become an opportunity to enhance the customer experience and build loyalty.

In the retail world there are some obvious things, like that to sell you need to have items for sale in your store…. right? Well, maybe not. Today we come to challenge that idea with a new concept of a stockless store. Don’t you think that’s possible? Well, keep reading and you’ll see.

For some time now, retailers like Nordstrom have been demonstrating that out-of-stock stores can be a success; in fact, they are already planning to open similar new stores in new locations as part of their business strategy.

What the hell is a out-of-stock store?

Behind this concept lies something much less mysterious than it seems.

Out of stock stores are click & collect businesses, i.e. businesses that combine online stores with physical stores. The difference with the clicks & collect of a lifetime is that in stores without stock there is no inventory of any kind: only products that have been ordered online are available.

As a customer, you can place an order online and go to a brand’s out-of-stock store to see the product first hand, touch it, try it and pick it up. But once there, that customer will not be able to buy other products, as they could in a traditional click & collect business.

At this point, it may appear that out-of-stock stores are at a disadvantage with respect to physical stores that normally complement the online business of the click & collect model.

Nothing could be further from the truth: out-of-stock stores offer customers other types of services that provide added value and put the customer’s experience first, while at the same time promoting customer loyalty. This store model is very focused on strengthening the local part of the brand’s multi-channel strategy.

What is the purpose of out-of-stock stores?

The main objective of a stockless store is to promote the experiential. It’s a really effective way to complement the online shopping experience while dynamiting some of the most obvious brakes on purchasing certain products through eCommerce.

These out-of-stock stores sell especially well products related to sensory and personalization. It’s easy to think directly about an eCommerce of fashion, accessories, perfumes, decoration and home, but if we are a little creative we don’t have to limit ourselves to these niches.

EXAMPLE: Think about Apple stores for a moment. Who knows what an Iphone looks like: they’re all the same and there are 2 or 3 models on the market with minimal differences, why do people go to their stores en masse? Well, to touch them, to see how fast they are, if they fit in your pocket…. and interact with the brand in the process.

Nordstrom stores out of stock

The Nordstrom brand is dedicated to the marketing of fashion products, accessories, men’s and women’s cosmetics and household items – just the niches we have highlighted above as most suitable for out-of-stock stores.

Nordstrom is characterized, among other things, by its amazing ability to reinvent itself and always seek a new twist in its marketing strategy.

This retailer has been open to the public for more than 117 years, and not only has it not been doomed to disappear like many of its competitors, but it has also been able to grow in harmony with the times.

They have been selling online since 1998, which is only 4 years after Amazon itself; and in 2012 they participated in another of those remarkable companies because of the way things are usually done: the fashion brand Bonobos.

One of the novelties launched by Nordstrom at the time was the possibility of booking an item of clothing online and picking it up at one of the 373 stores it has in 40 of the 50 United States (including Puerto Rico) and Canada.

The success of this initiative was resounding and opened their eyes to certain insights that allowed them to exploit the two main lines of their strategic philosophy: the local and the experiential.

What out-of-stock stores are like and how they work

Out of stock stores are establishments with impeccable design and huge dressing rooms that are very comfortable and decorated in detail and where the specialists in the store attend to you with an extraordinary level of customer service.

But, in addition to this, you have a bar with alcoholic drinks and all kinds of juices at your disposal or a beauty salon to look after your appearance.

Entering one of these stores is a real immersion in the brand. You have the perception that you are enjoying shopping with all the pleasures that the physical act of shopping involves: from personalized attention to being able to try the products yourself, through personal care and, of course, socializing with other customers.

And all from the comfort of your sofa, since you buy it online.

What you can’t do in these stores is to buy any of the brand’s products: you can only pick up your orders online or go to an online appointment with your stylists – but taking advantage of all the advantages that these types of stores offer you in terms of customer experience and personalisation of the service.

A great idea for Concept Stores

If your brand combines physical and online store – that is, if you have a click & collect – or if you have an online store with distribution in third-party physical stores, an interesting step to take in the retail channel is to bet on a store without stock.

As a store concept that enhances high value-added services that add to the shopping experience and the brand experience, it’s a great idea if you want to create a Concept Store.

By the way, you don’t need to spend thousands of euros on expensive shops and exuberant renovations: you just need to get a corner in a shopping mall to get the idea of out-of-stock stores off your chest.
What do you think of the idea of out-of-stock stores and would you dare to consider it as part of your multi-channel strategy? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments.