Nordstrom is one of the most iconic department stores in the US. As of 2017, the company had 9 million shoppers. For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Nordstrom are its brick and mortar stores. The company serves American customers through 352 locations. Most eCommerce sellers might therefore ignore the retailer in pursuit of players with a larger digital presence, such as Amazon or Walmart. However, online is becoming an increasingly important part of Nordstrom’s operations – according to Statista, 38% of the company’s sales were driven through digital channels in 2022. In 2020, the company had the 3rd largest online revenue among department stores in the US, raking in $3.34 billion in sales.
The Direct Drop Ship program is a way for you to access this large segment of shoppers. Through the program, sellers can feature their product assortment on Nordstrom’s website. When customers place orders, merchants must pick, pack and ship the products either from their own warehouse, or through a 3rd Party Logistics Provider (3PL) to the customer.
Before we dive into how you can find this 3PL partner, it’s worth asking an important question – why is the program worth doing?
Why is the Direct Drop Ship Program Great?
Invite-only Marketplace Where You Can Grow Sales
Nordstrom’s Direct Drop Ship program is currently invite only – like the 3rd party marketplaces at Macy’s and Target. Nordstrom may be doing this to simplify the product assortment customers see, making it easier for them to find things they really like. For sellers, this is great because it provides them access to Nordstrom customers with much less competition compared to a sales channel like Amazon, where nearly anyone can sell.
Nordstrom Provides Full Assistance With EDI Integration
Nordstrom requires transmission of information between themselves and their sellers through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). The company does this through a CommerceHub platform called DropShip Commerce (DSCO). Whenever purchase orders are received, Nordstrom will transmit the information via EDI to the seller. Similarly, sellers must pass updates from their side (acknowledgements of Purchase Orders, Advance Shipment Notifications with tracking information etc.) through the DSCO platform.
Some retailers require the seller to take care of configuring this technology on their dropshipping programs. Nordstrom provides both the platform and assistance in integrating it with their systems.
Nordstrom Covers All Shipping Costs
One of the great advantages of the program is that shipping fees are paid for by Nordstrom. While other elements of order fulfillment, such as packaging and storage fees are still the responsibility of the seller, shipping labels are a significant cost that Nordstrom takes off their shoulders.
Sellers must make sure that they use the UPS billing account that Nordstrom provides them – so long as merchants comply with this, they will be reimbursed shipping costs across a variety of services – including Ground, 3 Day Select, 2nd Day Air and Next Day Air Saver.
What Should You Look For in a Nordstrom 3PL?
Achieve a Fulfillment Rate of 98%
Nordstrom requires that sellers keep cancellations extremely low – 98% of orders must be fulfilled before the defined due date on the DSCO system.
Traditional 3PLs that operate with a single warehouse location may not be ideal – in the event of any disruption at that location (extreme weather, carrier services disruption etc.), your ability to ship products on time to customers will be impacted.
Additionally, traditional 3PLs may be limited to basic spreadsheets or worse, manual bookkeeping to keep track of your inventory. If you run out of stock and purchase orders continue flowing in, you will be forced to cancel them, affecting your fulfillment rate metrics. Cahoot’s software intelligently decrements the count of inventory as it leaves our warehouses, and provides color-coded alerts to you on a dashboard so that you always replenish products in time to keep your sales going.
Ability to Ship 97% of Orders On Time
Nordstrom defines its shipping SLAs based on whether the order requires Standard or Expedited Shipping.
Achieving this high level of performance comes down to ensuring that your fulfillment partner has excellent pick/pack and order fulfillment practices to get every order out within time.
Make sure to conduct extensive research into the standards at your 3PL’s warehouse. On Cahoot’s order fulfillment network, warehouses must pass a 44-point checklist to be eligible to fulfill orders for our sellers.
Level of Service
SLA for Shipping
1 business day
3 Day Select
1 business day
2nd Day Air (PO received before 12 PM PST)
2nd Day Air (PO Received after 12 PM PST)
1 business day
Next Day Air Saver (PO received before 12 PM PST)
Next Day Air Saver (PO received after 12 PM PST)
1 business day
Have a UPS Account, and Experience Working With the Carrier
Nordstrom requires that sellers use their own UPS account – your 3PL must provide you one, or give you the flexibility to use your own UPS account. Perhaps more importantly, the 3PL must have experience working with UPS – this will ensure that daily pickups and carrier scans are conducted in a timely fashion – thereby streamlining your Nordstrom order fulfillment.
Help you Meet Nordstrom’s Eco-Friendly Packaging Standards
In Nordstrom’s words, they ‘strive to be an environmentally friendly company’. They also encourage sellers to avoid excess packaging.
With many traditional 3PLs, you may find that items often ship in boxes larger than the SKU actually needs. The problem is that most traditional 3PLs have a very limited configuration of boxes of standard sizes. Items are simply thrown into the next available box, without taking care to identify if it is truly the most optimal one.
The problem worsens with Multi-Line, Multi-Quantity (MLMQ) Orders. These orders can often be unnecessarily split into multiple boxes. With Cahoot’s MLMQ automation features, our system learns from SKU and box dimension data, as well as past data to intelligently identify the most optimal box for every order.
This ensures that you save costs across every order, while also meeting Nordstrom’s (and the customer’s) expectation for more environmentally responsible, sustainable packaging.
Fully Compliant With Nordstrom Packing Slip Requirements
Nordstrom requires every shipment sent to customers to have a branded packing slip, as well as a return label (the company will bear the cost):
This is how an example packing slip looks like (image sourced from Nordstrom Supplier)
This is how a return label looks like:
Your 3PL fulfillment partner must sweat the details and ensure that this requirement is complied with – the little things matter enormously toward ensuring both continued enrollment in the Direct Drop Ship program, as well as customer satisfaction.
Fully Compliant With Nordstrom EDI Technology
The 3PL must be able to work with the Direct Drop Ship Program’s tech stack (DSCO platform) and ensure that you comply with all the requirements around data transmission to Nordstrom.
Responsive, Reliable Customer Support
Order fulfillment is a complex operation, involving multiple, intricate steps in the process from click to delivery. Things don’t always go as planned, but what is crucial is ensuring that your 3PL has a responsive, reliable customer support team whom you can rely on to fix problems fast, with minimal disruption to your business operations.
Most traditional 3PLs may not have personnel with the experience and expertise required to troubleshoot and fix problems fast – costing you precious time and sales. It is important to identify a Nordstrom fulfillment partner with a reliable, responsive customer support team – who will be ready to dive in and solve problems quickly, so that you’re always selling and keeping your customers happy.
So now that we’ve taken a look at the important criteria that guide your choice of a 3PL for Nordstrom, let’s look at the options that are actually available to you, and the pros and cons of each of them:
Top Nordstrom 3PL Companies
Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment
Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) is Amazon’s service through which you can fulfill orders on sales channels outside Amazon, such as eBay and Target Plus.
The service deploys the same infrastructure and resources that power Amazon’s in house Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) logistics network.
- Huge nationwide network – as of January 2022, Amazon operated just over 1000 warehouses in the US
- Amazon Fulfillment Centers are well equipped to handle small and lightweight SKUs – if the majority of your product catalog falls in that category, MCF may be worth exploring.
- Despite deploying the same logistics infrastructure powering FBA, the fees for MCF can be significantly higher (the reason is obvious – Amazon would like to ensure that its own marketplace takes top priority for merchants and sellers).
- FBA’s pricing is not well suited for heavier, larger-sized, seasonal or slow moving SKUs – if your product mix falls into these categories, FBA can become prohibitively expensive.
- Compliant with Nordstrom’s EDI requirements.
- Nationwide network of fulfillment centers.
- ShipBob customers have complained in the past about inefficient packaging choices – for example, using a larger sized box than may be necessary or sending a shipment in multiple boxes when a single one can be used. This can both lead to higher costs and disappoint environmentally conscious shoppers who are trying to cut down on packaging waste.
- Some customers have complained of an inconsistent customer support experience. This might be a crucial factor for sellers as Nordstrom holds them accountable for issues with order fulfillment, not their 3PL.
Cahoot: The Best Nordstrom 3PL
Cahoot’s peer-to-peer order fulfillment network is built for the future of eCommerce. Our network of warehouses is located at strategic locations across the US, enabling Nordstrom Direct Drop Ship merchants to offer their customers ultra fast shipping. Our fulfillment centers are well equipped to handle all types of SKUs – including heavier, seasonal, larger-sized and slow moving ones (which the typical Amazon Fulfillment Center may struggle to process).
We are compliant with all aspects of the Direct Drop Ship program. Our US based customer support team is always ready and responsive to ensure that your order fulfillment operations are running smoothly all the time.
98% Fulfillment Rate
97% On-Time Ship Rate
Experience Working With UPS
Optimized Product Packaging
Compliant With Nordstrom EDI Technology
Compliant With Nordstrom Packing Slip Requirements
Cahoot is committed to helping Nordstrom sellers grow their businesses with fast and affordable ecommerce order fulfillment service.
If you’d like to find out how Cahoot can help your ecommerce business, please get in touch with us. We can’t wait to show you how Nordstrom order fulfillment was meant to be.
If you are selling on multiple sales channels and are interested in 3PLs that can help you with fulfillment, you can read our other articles: