Neiman Marcus‘ Christmas Book will make its return this season in print form, marking the iconic catalogue’s 94th year, said Lana Todorovich, president and chief merchandising officer, during Adweek’s virtual Commerce Week summit today.
The print publication, which dropped today, also serves as a contrast with the retailer’s continuing strides in its digital transformation. Ultimately, the print release signifies the retention of a few Neiman Marcus traditions from before its bankruptcy filing earlier this year.
Apart from achieving balance between old approaches and new ones, the luxury retailer’s digital evolution remains front and center.
“We were fortunate to have been on a transformational journey that we kicked off about a year, a year and a half before the pandemic,” Todorovich said. “And so, we had a lot of different foundational blocks already in place, one of which was very importantly digital transformation,” she added, discussing the state of the retailer prior to the pandemic.
As part of investing in digital, Neiman Marcus also aims to build on the loyal customer base it has accrued over 100 years. Expanding its relationships with European luxury brands that it has introduced to the US over the years is also part of its plans to remain relevant.
Needless to say, those efforts were accelerated by the arrival of Covid-19.
Among the retailer’s digital investments is a propriety app named Neiman Marcus Connect. The app was rolled out during the pandemic to connect sales associates with customers. It appears to have made a successful connection: this remote-selling platform accounted for some $100 million in additional revenue separate from its existing ecommerce and physical store channels. In tandem, the app strengthened relationships with customers who were looking for something approximating the in-store personal connection with sales associates, Todorovich explained.
In trying to meet the demand for making the tangible experience work virtually, Neiman Marcus was spurred to create a digital version of its fall catalogue, the Fall Book, rather than a print version, Todorovich said. In that sense, bringing back the printed Christmas book reflects the air “exclusivity” the brand has always sought to align itself with.
The retailer followed that up by launching a purely digital campaign called “Neiman’s State of Mind,” which was dropped in chat first and told stories in chapters about adapting to “the new normal.” It is continuing the spirit of that messaging with its digital holiday campaign “Make it Magic,” with 25 content stories about creating new traditions, for example, she said.
As part of its restructuring, Neiman Marcus recognized it was prudent to decrease the number of full-price stores to 36 while closing its off-price Last Call stores. As of Sept. 8, the company operated 43 Neiman Marcus locations, two Bergdorf Goodman locations in New York and five Last Call stores.
Over the course of the next year, Neiman Marcus wants to maximize the customer experience in those physical stores. The plan calls for the retailer to match each customer with a stylist “soulmate” who will be available either online or in the store. Neiman Marcus will also deliver a curated assortment of products across categories tailored to each customer’s taste.
Importantly, the brand views itself as a luxury platform that integrates its various channels, including stores, online and apps, rather than as department store chain. However, Todorovich added, brick-and-mortar stores will remain the backbone of the business.
“The way that we are thinking about this is really integrated retail. Our customers can shop wherever, however, whenever they want with us and whatever what makes them feel comfortable, and we now have those options,” she said.