Nordstrom moves women's footwear to own online rack

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With the intent of putting its best shoe forward, Nordstrom has launched its women's footwear site with a $15 million, two-month advertising campaign.

The retailer, a Seattle shoe store in its early days, built its reputation on an extensive shoe selection and long has had a strong direct-mail operation. Now, the upmarket retailer that's been struggling with sluggish sales has taken that expertise to the e-commerce arena.

The site ( is linked to the company's main Web site ( And the move makes perfect sense.


Despite concerns about fit and comfort issues related to selling shoes over the Web, shoes have been the biggest sellers on Nordstrom's site since its October 1998 inception, accounting for 30% of all online sales, a company spokeswoman said.

The shoe site offers an inventory of some 20 million pairs of shoes from brands such as Doc Martin, Kenneth Cole, Allen-Edmonds and Stride Rite as well as Nordstrom's own private labels, Classiques and Preview among them. Additional upscale designer brands are being added as contracts with those companies are concluded, the company spokeswoman said.

The online shoe store also tries to bring some of Nordstrom's renowned customer service to the Web. Consumers can search based on factors such as brand, size, price or for shoes to go walking in comfort or clubbing.

Nordstrom's main site has focused offerings on a limited selection of clothing and accessories as well as shoes. Special features include a Callaway Golf shop and an inventory system that allows shoppers to know in real time whether an item is in stock.

Of Nordstrom's $5 billion in overall sales, $200 million are from its catalog and Internet operations, the spokeswoman said.


To kick off the ad effort for the shoe site, Nordstrom in October broke its first work from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis. Aimed at women who have an emotional attachment to shoes, print ads show a picture of a once-happy couple in which the man has been ripped out. "Make room for shoes. Get rid of everything else. Nordstrom has the world's biggest shoe store," the copy reads.

A similarly irreverent TV effort starting Nov. 1 will run in 11 markets during prime-time and cable programming aimed at women. Outdoor ads will court commuters in Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

Print is running in fashion publications such as Allure, In Style, and W; entertainment magazines such as Entertainment Weekly and Premiere; Internet book Wired; and business magazine Fast Company. Newspaper ads are slated for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

It's the first concerted campaign Fallon has mounted for Nordstrom since winning the account in the spring of 1998. That assignment centered on broad-based strategy, and a branding campaign is expected next year.

Contributing: Debra Aho Williamson.

Copyright October 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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