WHILE RETAIL FIRMS LIKE FEDERATED, MACY’S, AND Carter-Hawley-Hale have wrestled with bankruptcy, Nordstrom has grown from 36 stores and 9,000 employees in 1983 to 76 stores and more than 35,000 employees by 1995, with average sales per square foot double the industry average. What accounts for Nordstrom’s competitive advantage? A close reading of the strategy literature quickly suggests that it is not the usual factors such as barriers to entry, power over suppliers and customers, or lack of industry rivalry. The retail industry is quite competitive and buyers and suppliers move easily from one firm to another. It isn’t location, merchandise, store appearance, or even the piano in the lobby. Each of these ...

Get Winning Through Innovation now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.