Welcome to The Backroom, your behind-the-scenes look at the stories and trends reshaping retail with the Retail Dive team. You can check out all our podcast episodes (past and present) here and listen on iTunes or Stitcher.
For those familiar with our previous podcast, Conversational Commerce, we've revamped things to focus on the trends and stories that drive change and disrupt the industry. We put a lot of thought into identifying the critical industry trends we bring you. The Backroom will be your window into what goes on behind the scenes.
Last month, our editorial team picked up on some social media grumbling about Nordstrom's popular Anniversary Sale. The retailer grants early access to its annual sales event to members of its tiered Nordy Club loyalty program. This year, some loyalty members on social media complained that despite getting "early access" they had trouble placing orders and completing sales. Controversy arose over assertions that items ran out before the sale was properly underway, leading to accusations from some shoppers that "influencers" and others had been given an unfair advantage.
It turned what is usually a positive interaction between Nordstrom and its loyal fans — not to mention a huge sales upside for the retailer — into a social media tempest. The retailer was quick to apologize, and scrambled to make things right as quickly as possible, but the episode sparked some questions about loyalty programs in the age of influencers.
On this week's episode: Reporter Daphne Howland and Editors Kaarin Vembar and Cara Salpini talk about what happened, how the story came together and what the implications could be.