Advisory Banner



3,000 SF Nordstrom Local Store Just the Beginning of the ‘Smaller and Smarter’ Revolution

Nordstrom Local, a new, much smaller version of the traditional department store format has recently opened in West Hollywood. With almost no inventory to speak of, the store is designed to deliver a first-hand, personalized retail "experience." Expert stylists, a beverage bar, nail salon and other amenities are designed to bring a much more comprehensive fashion experience to clothes shopping. The Local store, in combination with inventory housed in the traditional department store format that can deliver merchandise within the hour, can offer both efficiency and effectiveness. While not emphasized in their first announcements, I suspect technology, as it becomes more and more compelling, will have a future role in the experiences offered in this new format.

It is important not to lose the bigger message when evaluating the new retail concepts that we are beginning to see in the marketplace. Amazon buying Whole Foods, Target partnering with Amazon for returns, Target’s new small format stores, Tesla’s limited inventory auto dealership showroom and Amazon’s retail stores- all are examples of technology morphing with bricks and mortar. The next few years will bring a whole host of new experiments to test ideas that will lead to the perfect combination of physical retail and technology, to produce the ultimate experience and greatest efficiency.

Technology and automation are not the only factors driving retail’s move to smaller and smarter. The world has noticed that bigger formats that offer poor inventory management, questionable service and logistical issues (traffic and parking), also often lead to the industry’s challenges. Add to that an overbuilt inventory and a potential debt crisis by some over-leveraged retailers and the reengineering continues.

The following infographic illustrates the eight trends that are colliding with and contributing to the retail transformation. The eighth trend, which was added since our last article in May of this year, is debt management. In recent headlines, the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy provides some insight into the high-flying, liberal lending practices of a few years ago. This happened again, despite the lessons learned in 2008. ‘Take the money and expand’ was the common mantra and many retail executives could not resist the adulation or the desire to dominate their space. I suspect that this is only the beginning and the next 24 months could produce a number of headlines similar to Toys “R” Us.

The following is a brief summary of the Infographic, outlining the eight factors influencing Retail’s Transformation:
(1) OVERBUILT – Recent reports indicate that the United States has significantly overbuilt retail in the last decade. Some estimate we have as much as seven times retail per square foot as the next closest country.

(2) OBSOLETE – Some feel that the size, format and experience of department stores are outdated and that more unique and custom shopping experiences are the new norm.

(3) SOCIAL INTERACTION – In the old days, teens went to the mall to socialize and hopefully, shop. Today’s new technology and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the new ‘places’ where youths interact.

(4) BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE – Retailers are struggling to find and train employees who have the right attitude and skills to deliver a positive customer experience at scale.

(5) OMNI CHANNEL CHALLENGE – Most, if not all, retailers are struggling to deliver a seamless and engaging omni channel experience. The cost of delivering a strong bricks and mortar enterprise while cultivating an online channel is costly.

(6) INVENTORY MISMANAGEMENT – Despite the tremendous infrastructure investment required to deliver a mall or retail experience, you still can’t easily find particular products in an efficient manner; for example, all the stores that have "brown shoes in a size 8."

(7) THE ONLINE MOVEMENT – It is not just Amazon, but online in general, that is delivering a more efficient and engaging shopping experience. With little legacy required by the online community, traditional retailers are struggling to keep up. Just last week, Amazon introduced a 'Fashion-Bot' that uses a smart camera to snap photos of wardrobe choices and apply artificial intelligence to assist in the selection process.

(8) DEBT MANAGEMENT – Many retailers were convinced by financiers that their brand was ready for expansion. Cheap money combined with an aggressive appetite to lend led many retailers to partake in overly ambitious and optimistic expansion plans. This debt issue leaves them with limited resources that are needed to finance the changes required in this transformation. The signs of this Retail Transformation have been building for years. It is only in the last couple of years that it is becoming apparent to everyone that this is not an anomaly but rather a paradigm shift in how we shop and how retail outlets should be designed.

Experience, efficiency, convenience and price competitiveness are all features today’s consumers have come to expect. The mall or retail operation of the last century is gone forever. The future will blend location, bricks and mortar, technology and design to provide a new type of convenient and exciting retail experience that also provides operational efficiency and a sustainable way forward.

To learn more about this and other industry trends and what’s ahead for Corporate Real Estate and Facilities, join us at CoRE Tech 2017 on Nov. 14 and 15 in Silicon Valley. There is still time to register!

Jim Young, Co-Founder & CEO, Realcomm
Founder of Realcomm Conference Group, an education organization that produces Realcomm, IBcon and CoRE Tech, the world's leading conferences on technology, automated business solutions, intelligent buildings and energy efficiency for the commercial and corporate real estate industry. As CEO, Jim interacts with some of the largest companies globally pertaining to some of the most advanced and progressive next generation real estate projects under development.

This Week’s Sponsor

Yardi® develops and supports industry-leading investment and property management software for all types and sizes of real estate companies. Established in 1984, Yardi is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., and serves clients worldwide. For more information on how Yardi is Energized for Tomorrow, visit

Realcomm News



CRE Tech Innovation Showcase - Uncovering the Next Generation of New Ideas - 7/12/2018

Never before in the history of the Commercial Real Estate market has technology been so prevalent. Since 2009, hundreds—if not thousands—of companies selling tech to the Commercial Real Estate Industry have emerged. Estimates now suggest there are more than 2,000 new CRE Tech companies in the space. The sheer number of new companies makes it almost impossible to keep up and organizations are struggling to establish an effective process to discover, organize, vet, test and implement new technologies. This webinar will evaluate the categories of technologies, best practice criteria, and clarify different solutions that are making their way to the top of the list.

headshot for Tom Shircliff
Tom Shircliff Intelligent Buildings
Tom Shircliff Co-Founder Tom Shircliff is a co-founder and principal of Intelligent Buildings, a nationally recognized smart real estate professional services company that was
headshot for Tom Shircliff
Tom Shircliff
Intelligent Buildings

Tom Shircliff is a co-founder and principal of Intelligent Buildings, a nationally recognized smart real estate professional services company that was started in 2004. Intelligent Buildings provides planning and implementation of next generation strategy for new buildings, existing portfolios and urban communities. Tom is a speaker and collaborator with numerous universities and national laboratories, a gubernatorial appointee for energy strategy and policy and founding Chairman of Envision Charlotte, a Clinton Global Initiative.

headshot for Chip Pierpont
Chip Pierpont GSA
Chip Pierpont Director, Facilities Operations & Technologies Chip Pierpont manages and provides expert guidance on the development and execution of requirements/solutions for building operations and technologies
headshot for Chip Pierpont
Chip Pierpont
Director, Facilities Operations & Technologies

Chip Pierpont manages and provides expert guidance on the development and execution of requirements/solutions for building operations and technologies for General Services Administration (GSA), a Public Buildings Service (PBS) government agency tasked with managing government buildings and real estate, providing product and service procurement support, and developing policies and regulations. The landlord for the civilian federal government, PBS owns or leases 8,700 assets, maintains an inventory of more than 370 million square feet of workspace for 1.1 million federal employees, and preserves more than 481 historic properties.

headshot for Brian Sutherland
Brian Sutherland Yardi
Brian Sutherland Industry Principal, Yardi Elevate
headshot for Brian Sutherland
Brian Sutherland
Industry Principal, Yardi Elevate

headshot for Rahul Shira
Rahul Shira Philips Lighting
Rahul Shira Product Mktg. Manager
headshot for Rahul Shira
Rahul Shira
Product Mktg. Manager
Philips Lighting