Department stores often separate themselves from their discount destinations, even though these more affordable parallels can lead consumers to eventually make purchases from the higher-priced store. Nordstrom offers a bare-bones product page on its subsidiary, Nordstrom Rack, with the bargain hunter in mind.

However, there’s more to luring customers than low prices.

Aside from cutting costs on subsidiary sites, many department stores differentiate themselves from their discount versions through branding and special features such as fit videos, style guides, and click-and-collect — features that are absent from Nordstrom Rack’s site but show up on Nordstrom itself. While the intent behind this might be to attract consumers on an aspirational level, it fails to consider the intimidation factor.

Higher prices, more formal customer service, and an overall exclusive ambience can have a bargain-minded consumer feeling like a fish out of water — just like the first time he or she walks into a high-end department store in real life. Especially if this consumer is accustomed to a basic website where they can get in, get out, and get their deal, they’re likely to be a bit overwhelmed by a more interactive platform.

Unifying branding strategy for both department store and subsidiary can help brands double traffic, luring shoppers who might otherwise have stuck to the off-price subsidiary. In contrast to Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus designed a site for its Last Call subsidiary that is nearly identical to its own, easing the leap for discount shoppers.

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