The Future of Nordstrom, Real Estate and Internet Shopping

Nordstrom ShoppingBefore I jump into a discussion on real estate and internet shopping, let me tell you a secret. A sales clerk working in the Eileen Fisher department at Nordstrom at the Westfield Galleria in Roseville told me that Nordstrom sits on rollers and is not attached to a concrete foundation, a tidbit I did not know. She said the whole building is constructed on top of rollers. I discovered this because in the midst of shopping recently, I suddenly felt the earth move beneath me, and it wasn’t due to Eileen Fisher price tags. The floor was actually moving where I stood. It’s to protect the integrity of the building during an earthquake; it’s a seismic safety provision. It’s not a comfortable feeling, though.

Shopping in Sacramento can be an unpleasant experience as well, as I was warned by our friends in Davis, just before we settled here in 2002. She wasn’t talking about real estate and internet. She was talking about actual shopping. We had moved from Mall of America-land in Minneapolis to the Central Valley. Before that, I had previously lived in Newport Beach, with access to Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza, so you can probably sense that moving to Sacramento was a bit of a shopping shock for me.

We don’t have tons of name-brand stores featuring huge selections in Sacramento. Almost any major purchase of furniture, for example, requires a waiting period to ship. Whenever possible I try to buy from a local merchant, but I am turning more to the Internet now than ever. In fact, it’s common practice today for a product to be available only through Internet shopping. What is this? Hawaii?

A few weeks back I received a catalog from Nordstrom. It doesn’t matter that I thew it away because I can still access the catalog online, yet much of the fall fashion-line stuff is not available in any of the stores within a 100-mile radius of Sacramento. I found a two-piece blue tweed outfit I liked and thought, hey, why should I order it, find out it’s the wrong size and have to ship it back? I could wear any of 3 sizes in that particular garment. I called Nordstrom to ask if they would order the ensemble for me in 3 sizes so I could, gasp, actually go into the store and try it on, just like the good old days.

Nordstorm is known for customer service, above and beyond, exceptional customer service, just like I am known as a Sacramento real estate agent. I will move heaven and earth for my clients, and so will Nordstrom. The solution first offered by the clerk at Nordstrom was I should spend a few thousand and order all 3 sizes delivered to the store. That was a not a good idea. She needed to be more creative than that.

Turns out a size 6 is a very popular size, so the only way to order it is online. The store will transfer the 4 and 8 sizes and let me exchange the items there if the size 6 does not fit properly. I tell you, it’s coming. Soon we will not be able to buy anything in a store ever again. We will be forced to order supplies online. Brick-and-mortar stores will disappear. Real estate and internet will change. The futuristic stuff they warned about when Bulletin Boards first emerged in 1991 and we all pooh-poohed is coming true. Those early predictions seem to be right on the mark. Commercial retailers have already outsourced much of its customer service overseas or elsewhere in the country. Retail stores as we know it will probably vanish shortly, and it’s upsetting, don’t you think? It’s bad enough the milkman doesn’t come anymore, dangnabit.

I shudder to imagine what will happen to real estate and internet in 20 years. Because I already conduct much of my Sacramento real estate business online, and by phone or text. It’s rare that I actually get to meet a client anymore. I’m a bit of an anomaly and not your common-place Sacramento real estate agent. But just wait. Enjoy the human interaction when you can — because it’s moving the way of the dinosaurs.

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