March 12th, 2012 by Kelly Liyakasa

Neiman Marcus has always been forward-thinking in the style department, but the luxury retailer is adding to its in-store service experience by introducing an iPhone app to enhance the conversation.

To personalize the tie between customer and sales associate, the store is using developer Signature Labs’ platform to power NM Service, a personal shopping assistant application that will go live in four Neiman’s this spring (Austin, Dallas, San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif., stores if you want to see it in action.)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Neiman Marcus. When I worked in lifestyle, I had a photo shoot where I was not only allowed to rip the tags off of a dozen Chanel and Tom Ford sunglasses in-store, but encouraged to do so (with the help of a gracious Neiman’s associate, nonetheless.)

The bottom line is – Neiman’s seemingly strives to deliver a service experience a cut above the rest. And some of the NM Service features are pretty nifty. Shoppers can “favorite” items they see in-store and wish to order, cluing in their sales associate on what products to pull for them. Buyers can scan QR codes on signs in-store to unlock trends and also be alerted about exclusive style events.

According to Jim Gold, president of specialty retail at Neiman Marcus, the NM Service App “allows us to take our service philosophy into the digital era” while giving customers a sneak peak at new arrivals and sales. NM Service lets customers message their go-to sales associate, which looks like a win-win because that associate then gets access to purchase history and automatic alerts when the customer enters the store.

I came across a blog post authored by Vicki Cantrell of Shop.org, outlining what international expansion means for retail. A global market has built-in differences in product assortment, currency, and shipping and fulfillments. Offering free shipping in one country might not work so well across borders.

But that’s Cantrell’s point. A “one-size-fits-all” marketing and communications strategy simply won’t work when there are so many business outlets. Cantrell mentions the “changing face of the socially empowered and always-connected, mobile consumer.” I have a feeling NM Service was designed with this point in mind.

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