Last July, Tesla hired Ganesh Srivats, a former senior vice president at Burberry, as its North American sales manager. The move was widely seen as an attempt by Tesla to confirm its position as a major player in the luxury car market. While at Burberry, Srivats had many opportunities to work with Nordstrom, an upscale North American retailer. Now that association has turned into a partnership between Tesla and Nordstrom.
Between now and the end of the year, Tesla will have a car on display at a 400-square-foot boutique within the Nordstrom store at The Grove, the hottest, trendiest, hippest shopping mall in the Los Angeles area.
There, Nordstrom customers will get to ogle a Tesla up close and talk to company representatives about Tesla automobiles. No vehicles will actually be sold at the store. Until Tesla obtains a sales license for its boutique, interested parties will be referred to sales representatives off site who will provide test drives upon request. People will also be directed to the Tesla website, where the majority of orders for its new cars are placed.
“[We’re] bringing Nordstrom customers a Tesla experience, and I think for Nordstrom as well, it’s like, How can we target Tesla’s audience?” says Ganesh Srivats. For its part, Nordstrom tells Fast Company that it will evaluate the partnership for the rest of this year. “We’re focused on listening to our customers and seeing how they respond to this type of differentiated experience,” Nordstrom says. It has 121 retail locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Srivats says the Nordstrom experiment is all part of his company’s commitment to selling its cars directly to its customers without the need of franchise dealers, a philosophy that has engendered a great deal of animosity from dealer organizations in several states.
“This kind of innovation is just not going to be possible if we don’t have a direct sales model,” Srivats says. “Because ultimately we’re going to be restricted by the dealerships from engaging in the new playful ways that we’re able to do because we own our business.”