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Nordstrom app
Screen grabs of the “Reserve & Try In Store” feature on the Nordstrom app. (Via Nordstrom)

Squinting at a smartphone-sized photo of a shirt or pair of pants isn’t exactly the easiest way to determine if that article of clothing is going to look good on you or fit properly. But what if your app-induced shopping allowed you to reserve an item at a nearby store and then dash over to try it on?

Nordstrom’s latest effort to bridge the divide between traditional in-store shoppers and an increasingly digital-minded audience has led to the creation of a new feature called “Reserve & Try In Store.” Available on its iOS and Android apps, Nordstrom rolled out the feature this week and it’s currently available at its Western Washington locations, including the Seattle flagship.

“We realize that customers want to shop on their terms,” said Shea Jensen, vice president of customer experience at Nordstrom. “Reserve & Try In Store is a way to help make the shopping experience easier for customers who like to touch, feel and try on items before buying them. We hope it helps combine the convenience of shopping online with a quick and efficient in-store experience.”

Nordstrom app
(Via Nordstrom)

Reserve & Try works by giving digital customers the chance to slip into some shoes or throw on a coat touch before purchasing. In my house, and probably many others where a bright phone light signals dollars being spent, this is often achieved by ordering the same item in varying sizes or colors. Whatever gets a thumbs down gets sent back.

Nordstrom customers can find an item they are interested in at their preferred store before going in. This happens while shopping in the app using another relatively new feature, Store Mode, which launched at the end of June. That option allows customers to set a preferred store and toggle between all Nordstrom inventory and items available at that preferred store.

So, customers find an item, select Reserve & Try and then fill in their contact information and confirm a reservation. There’s no payment up front. Within two hours or less (during store hours), the store notifies the customer via text message when the items are found.

In the store, the customer visits a new department called Order Pickup, developed for the purpose of online orders and reservations. Here they will find their name on the door of a pre-set fitting room, and inside are the items selected on Reserve & Try. Users can select up to 10 things, by the way, and they’re held until the store closes the next day.

The effort is part of what the longtime Seattle retailer signaled as a refocused tech strategy earlier this year when it vowed to create a more “seamless experience across stores and online.”

The company cut 120 jobs on its tech team in March before announcing a month later that as many as 400 “corporate center” jobs would be slashed. The upheaval continued in May when the vice president of digital and store technologies and other leaders departed the retailer’s tech unit.

Last month, Ken Worzel was named the president of as the company said it was looking to “accelerate its e-commerce, digital and mobile efforts.”

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