Nordstrom - Nordstrom's commission structure rewards top performers, but barely pays subsistence wages otherwise; watch your back. | Glassdoor
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Helpful (43)

"Nordstrom's commission structure rewards top performers, but barely pays subsistence wages otherwise; watch your back."

StarStarStarStarStar
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Career Opportunities
  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
Current Employee - Commissioned Sales Associate
Current Employee - Commissioned Sales Associate
Doesn't Recommend
No opinion of CEO

Pros

There is a lot of cache to working at Nordstrom. People are really impressed because it is considered high end and has been named (in the past, at least) "one of the top 100 companies to work" for. If you want to be around a lot of glossy upscale merchandise in a sparkling department store environment, then look no further.

You will get a whopping 20% discount off your purchases as an employee. And after 1,000 hours of full time work you will be eligible to sign up for health insurance and other benefits. Eventually, you will earn paid time off at your non-sale rate of $9 an hour.

You will gain excellent product knowledge at Nordstrom because the company wants you to be "the fashion expert." You will learn a lot about the merchandise so you can up sell and cross sell.

You will receive business cards that help your customers remember you and provide you a polished presentation.

You will look your best every day because the dress code is enforced. If you work in a department that sells jeans, you may be allowed to wear denim to work. Otherwise, it's close toed shoes, no denim or jeans, no sleeveless tops or bare shoulders, no printed tees. Professionalism is the key. You will see the occasional leggings and tops on women; men will wear jackets, sweaters, and ties. Expect to accessorize and to pick up a lot of tips on how to stay fashion forward.

It is said that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. While this is possible, it is not a given. Not everyone moves up. If you are right out of college or if you intern at Nordstrom you will have a better chance for promotion because you are more mobile and have fewer obligations.

Cons

Your commission is calculated minus your returns for up to a full year later. Total truth. Check it out. Example: A customer buys a Gucci handbag in December then returns it next August. You have to take it back and that commission comes out of your pay even if it's 12 months later. Ask yourself why the sales staff is so over-the-top nice to customers and remember that next time you shop there.

Watch your coworkers. They are supposed to "save your sale" when a return comes to the counter, but they can exchange your merchandise then ring it up as their sale when you are not there. This is technically commission fraud, but there are all kinds of "extenuating circumstances" and excuses that people use to justify it. Even managers do it. And, yes, it can get ugly. Watch for those managers who take over sales from their own staff, especially new hires who don't know how to speak up. Managers have all kinds of excuses for doing this such as "I was actually the one who made that sale happen," or "Because I had to service your customer, I get the sale." Remember, managers are paid partly on commission and have sales quotas too.

Commissions paid are calculated by how much you sell per hour. As a commissioned sales associate, you are paid a draw against commission, so every single hour you work you have to sell ten or more times your hourly wage to cover that draw Nordstrom pays you. They start calculating your sales 40 minutes before the store opens and 40 minutes after it closes. And during those times you are unable to sell because the store is closed. Clearly, this policy unfairly reduces your commission.

Get used to being a drone if you are not a top seller. Mr. Nice Guy does not come in first at Nordstrom, regardless of what they say. You might be asked to come in from 7:30am-9:30am, then work that same day from 1pm-Close, then open the next morning at 8:30am. Yes this really happens

Bottom line, if you can live on $11-$13 an hour then go for it. We compared paychecks and occasionally the best sales associates make $15. Sales or special event bump it up. If you are in the top 10% of sellers you will earn more, but watch out for those returns. They can even be in the thousands of dollars in one day.

Management will entice you with the tremendous growth potential at Nordstrom, but that really only applies if you are mobile and willing to relocate at a moment's notice. Do not plan on moving up soon if you want to stay in the same city.

Advice to Management

Blake Nordstrom and store managers:

The Inverted Pyramid sounds good on paper but is worthless in practice. Customers are at the top, fair enough. But the next level--the sales associates--are stuck in a tightrope walk between pleasing management and customers.

Personal Book also sounds good on paper, but there is not enough training, nor is there enough time to effectively use it.

Your staff feels, and rightly so, that department management are being protected and so team members take a big risk when they speak up. It's their word against yours, and guess who comes out ahead most of the time? The "no retaliation" policy may be explicit, but there are numerous ways around it. It's a shame because you stand to lose good, talented, hardworking people who hired on with the best of intentions. And your good will and reputation become tarnished in the process.

Scrutinize your department managers to see who is losing their team members and ask yourself why. What percentage of new hires stick around? Why does someone who is so "productive" lose so many people? Why is there a pattern? Are people dealt with fairly? Is there a climate of distrust and criticism? Are new hires misled about duties and schedules, misled about commissions that are changed after hire, misled about realistic earnings? Making book means a lot to a publicly-held company, but high turnover and loss of morale will cost you in the long run. If you are lucky, your customers (and shareholders) won't notice that there is constant change and that more bright and shiny people have replaced the old ones...for now.

Other Employee Reviews for Nordstrom

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Good Place to Work, Too Pushy w/ Customer Rewards"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales Associate Hourly
    Current Employee - Sales Associate Hourly
    Recommends

    Pros

    Wonderful and understanding coworkers. They do their best to really encourage all of the departments to achieve sales goals. It is also very easy to get requested days off when put in well in advance.

    Cons

    I chose to work with the Rack because I was not interested in a pushy sales environmnet. After visiting my local Rack and making many purchases I was pleased with what I saw. It was a lovely uninterrupted shopping experience and when I needed assistance I was able to be helped. The current position I have with the Rack started out wonderfully and then became an environment whose focus I feel has turned to opening rewards. "Rewarding" the customers means getting them to sign up for a store credit or debit card which is all well and good. When it becomes such a focus that they start posting "good people" lists and calling you out over your ear piece the working environmnet changes from excellent service based to "Get this card please to get these people off my back!" I understand the company makes a lot of money from these incentives but I do not think it is right to make your employees feel like they are inadequate by not continuously being able to get people to sign up for rewards.

    Advice to Management

    I do not think it is wise to single out employees for now achieving accounts by posting various lists. Sure reward those with accolades who do pump out rewards. Making visible lists, however, is a very passive-aggressive way of telling your under-preformers in the realm of cards (no matter how many excellent customer comments they get) that they aren't cutting it. Providing friendly, smiling customer service will begin to suffer as a result.


  2. "Nordstrom was a very fun place to work and I learned a lot from my fellow coworkers."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    You get to interact with a very diverse group of customers.

    Cons

    The HR department was very hard to get in touch with.

There are newer employer reviews for Nordstrom
There are newer employer reviews for Nordstrom

See Most Recent

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