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How Target, Nordstrom, and Kohl’s Are Consistently Posting Huge Wins


If you ask virtually any shopper, especially those considered Millennials or Gen Z, they will tell you that shopping has become all about the experience. In fact, more than 66% of shoppers have stated that they will pay up to 17% more for a great experience in store. While big brands continue to invest in strategies like AR, AI, frictionless checkout, and endless aisle initiatives, all of which can pay huge dividends, there are a few brands that are going beyond just technology enhancements.

So, without asking them to divulge their “secret sauce” to outpacing industry averages, if you pay attention while shopping at the likes of Nordstrom, Target, and Kohl’s, you’ll see things that analysts believe are giving them the edge they need – and it’s not those things that I mentioned above. 

Let’s first take a peek at Nordstrom. During the 2nd quarter last year, Nordstrom posted its highest, single-day sales during its Anniversary event, exceeding the same day, the year previous by 80%. How? By enticing shoppers to come in more regularly than before. Through special sales events, and mini pop-up shops offering unique items, shoppers are pleasantly surprised with items that can’t be found on the famous mega-ecommerce site that shall remain nameless (Hint…its Amazon). Their campaign Pop-In@Nordstrom takes on a different theme or designer each month, giving shoppers a reason to come back often. Add to this their willingness to accept returns from Macy’s and other retailers creates additional stickiness and positive experiences.

But Nordstrom is not alone. What about Kohl’s? While on the surface it appears to be a cost-cutting measure, Kohl’s has taken feedback stating that items can be hard to find and capitalized on it. Kohl’s is working to downsize hundreds of its 1,160 stores from 90,000 to approximately 60,000 square feet. Sounds like a waste of space, right? Wrong. According to Fortune Magazine, in select markets, Kohl’s is leasing the unused space to a complimentary retailer. For example, Kohl’s recently partnered with grocer Aldi, who is making a big splash in the US, to open 10 stores inside of Kohl’s locations. Why does this make sense? Kohl’s saves money while enhancing the customer experience by providing better access to top-selling items. Combine this with your already available Amazon returns center, and your everyday grocery run, and it’s a potential home run for repeat business and increased sales.

Now, let’s head over to Target. While many of us regularly shop there, or are married to someone who does, you’ll see that they have made a major push to update stores. In fact, Target is spending north of $7 billion to update stores through 2020. But that’s not all, they are also pushing their way into more urban areas by building smaller stores, which is already paying big dividends, and they’re not done yet. Target continues to place a heavy focus on “influencer marketing” or in other words, partner with celebrities on special pop-up related pushes, driving routine shopper visits. Additionally, Target Online continues to crush expectations by offering same-day delivering at more than 1,100 stores in 160 markets, and curbside pickup that is available at more than 800 stores. Just as influencer marketing reaches large potential customers, you can reach large groups of your employees with HughesON MediaTraining, a web solution that consolidates and expediates your employee communication.

To sum this all up, each of these initiatives is focused on elevating the shopper experience, and one way your organization could do so is with digital promo boards. And while these retailers admit that updating stores, BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store), curbside pickup, and complimentary retailing all play a significant part in why these brands are outpacing the average, there is a key ingredient that must accompany all of this – engaged employees or in other words, employees that “sell the experience.” Hughes offers some helpful tips on employee engagement tools that allow your enterprise to compete with even the larger name retailers.

To remain viable, and to ensure the aforementioned innovations and initiatives reach their intended effect, employees must be effectively communicated to, and continually be offered new opportunities to train themselves and others. No one, shoppers and employees alike, appreciate the “shoulder shrug.” When an employee is trained in such a way that enhances the customer buying journey, providing complementary information about products, the customer has a more fabulous experience, and the employee is left feeling satisfied in their performance – thus increasing their loyalty.

To anyone that has been in a Nordstrom, Kohl’s or Target recently, I’d say they are doing something quite right. Fingers crossed that they become benchmarks in this area.