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Reuters has a great piece about how Nordstrom has found a role model for its online business.

It started when Jamie Nordstrom, great-grandson of Nordstrom Inc founder John W. Nordstrom and the president of Nordstrom Direct, ordered a fishing tackle box fromAmazon, and then subsequently, "Amazon sent an email to buy an additive that is often used to preserve gasoline in boats stored over the winter -- an example of Amazon's strength crunching customer data to provide more relevant recommendations."

"They got me and all I had to do was literally hit a button. That's incredibly valuable," Nordstrom said in a recent speech.

The story continues: "Nordstrom, who already has his company's online business growing at a greater pace than its rivals, sees this 'personalization' as the new front in the retail wars, delivering the high levels of customer service that the department store is already known for.

"That's why Nordstrom is going on the offensive against Amazon, spending heavily on technology and luring talent from Amazon and Microsoft Corp. to super-charge his family department store chain's growth ... The main difference between Jamie Nordstrom and other retail executives is his willingness to spend heavily on long-term projects, another Amazon trait, according to Josh Berman, co-founder of MySpace and CEO of online fashion start-up BeachMint.

"At the start of 2012, Nordstrom unveiled a $3.3 billion, five-year capital plan of which about 30 percent was to be spent on e-commerce and technology. That is double the amount Nordstrom allocated to those areas in its capital plan a year earlier."

"If you ask Jamie what he wants to be when he grows up, he wants to compete with the likes of Amazon," says one retail analyst. "That's setting the bar high and I think that's good."

Reuters writes, "Before 2005, and the company's physical stores had different products and prices and separate marketing, human resources and accounting departments. Jamie Nordstrom combined the two, giving sales staff and customers access to any product in inventory at any time. Nordstrom can also fulfill online orders from stores, or order an item online that has run out in stores ... Nordstrom plans to show more relevant recommendations to customers online and to their smartphones. The best selling online categories include: women's and men's apparel, jewelry, and cosmetics. Such information will also show up in Nordstrom stores through sales staff using Apple Inc iPads and iPod Touch devices."
KC's View:
he piece essentially says that Nordstrom is learning from Amazon because it understands that at some level, Amazon is the competition ... and is likely only to become more potent as time passes.

Which is a conclusion that a lot of retailers need to come to.