Nordstrom forms new innovation team with former Rack boss at helm

Geevy Thomas has been named chief innovation officer at Nordstrom. / Nordstrom

Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom has created a new position in its leadership in hopes of increasing and engaging its customer base. Geevy Thomas has been named the company’s first chief innovation officer, leading a team that will be tasked with connecting with customers who are focused on digital experiences.

Thomas has 34 years of Nordstrom experience under his belt and was most recently president of the company’s discount stores, Nordstrom Rack, according to reports on GeekWire and the Puget Sound Business Journal.

“Our new chief innovation officer and his team will lead the most forward-looking customer-centric effort that Nordstrom has taken on to date,” said Erik Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom, in a news release. “Our business was founded and built over the years through our full-line stores, and today they still represent the largest portion of our sales volume. However, the way customers are choosing to shop in a more digitally-connected world continues to change, and we know we need to find ways for our stores to evolve with them. This is a challenge, but we also see a tremendous opportunity to leverage our stores in ways that will allow us to serve customers into the future better than anyone else.”

Nordstrom, like many big box retailers, has struggled with traditional in-store sales as digital retailing keeps rising, though the company did boast better-than-expected earnings a few months back with its Q2 numbers, with Nordstrom Rack stores posting a net sales increase of 11.2%. But it has had its share of layoffs and departures over the last year, including the exit of chief technology officer Kumar Srinivasan, who has yet to be replaced.

Thomas will be replaced at the Rack by longtime Nordstrom employee Karen McKibbons, who served as Nordstrom's first president of its Canada business, according to the Business Journal.

Nordstrom has begun efforts to up its mobile offerings in order to drive more store traffic and better serve customers by integrating digital and mobile. Those efforts include the Reserve & Try feature on the store’s mobile app.

“We’re looking to answer big questions and to get there, we’re giving our Nordstrom Innovation team the ability to move quickly and boldly to find solutions for the stores of tomorrow right out of the gate today,” said Nordstrom in the release. “Creating a fully separate team will help remove restrictions or boundaries around what’s possible for the Innovation team to test and try.”

The company recently said it would continue to actively search to fill several key VP roles in technology.

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