Nordstrom Rolls Out FlexPLM Vendor Portal

Written By: Blake Simms
  • PLM
  • 9/16/2019
  • Read Time : 4 min

Nordstrom is one of North America’s best-loved upscale department stores, with around 380 locations in the USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Nordstrom has been a valued PTC customer for more than a decade, using PTC’s leading FlexPLM solution to optimize design and development for its private label division (Nordstrom Product Group, or NPG). Today, Nordstrom has more than 300 FlexPLM users in-house, and the company is extending the reach of PLM throughout its supply chain.

The Project

With ambitious growth plans to significantly increase sales by 2022, Nordstrom is becoming a "Fashion Authority," offering a curated, high-low selection of private labels and luxury brands. To achieve this position, Nordstrom has been investing in digital transformation technologies that will help improve speed to market, empower decision-makers, allow its product teams to be more flexible in-season, and streamline supply chain communication.

After upgrading to a modern version of FlexPLM in 2016, Nordstrom recognized that PTC’s Vendor Portal – a key component of FlexPLM - could play a crucial role in delivering that three-to-five-year strategy to grow top-line sales. Using Vendor Portal capabilities, Nordstrom wanted to transform a supply chain workflow that had been built around outdated smart forms, leading to duplicate work and delays.

PTC’s FlexPLM Vendor Portal is designed to help retailers and brands collaborate with their suppliers - sharing product data seamlessly and securely, requesting quotes, and confirming and tracking orders.

Nordstrom already trusted PTC with its in-house design and development processes and saw a clear opportunity to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs by using Vendor Portal to work more closely with its global suppliers in the USA, South America, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

The project was driven from the top of the Nordstrom business, with executive sponsorship from NPG’s VP of Supply Chain and Operations.

The Benefits

The roll-out of FlexPLM’s Vendor Portal was a huge success, with 100% adoption across a large segment of Nordstrom’s supply chain community. Today, all NPG teams develop their technical specifications in FlexPLM. And with 14 vendors already on board, the goal is have more than 80% of vendors managed through Vendor Portal by the end of 2019.

Let’s look at the Vendor Portal process from a high level. Nordstrom helped their internal and vendor teams visualize the functions that can be supported in the go to market process by creating a map demonstrating their various design cycles and highlighting the areas where Vendor Portal could improve their collaboration and transparency with their suppliers. They also listed out the tasks within different areas that would be moved into the Vendor Portal solution.  


Furthermore, Nordstrom wanted to be sure roles and responsibilities were clear; they also were wise to make the information consumable in an extremely visual fashion to quickly help internal users identify what activities should be happening within the Vendor Portal. The graph below shows a column for the three design processes within Nordstrom’s product development. Each high-level business area has their processes broken down into detailed tasks that are color coded to outline ownership of the items in the Vendor Portal. It’s quite impactful to see it all laid out; it really shows how powerful the solution is when, at minimum, half of the work can be shared with the brand’s suppliers! 


 In summary, the Vendor Portal project delivered immediate benefits and business value for both Nordstrom’s in-house team of product developers and external sourcing partners, including:

  • Supporting the flow of information: Users who have the information can now enter it into the system, freeing up more value-add time for both suppliers and NPG.
  • Better relationships with suppliers: NPG were able to improve relationships with their suppliers and take them to the next level by providing a single location for inputting and extracting information. Tech packs, costing information and other product data are securely shared with only the relevant vendor, and all discussion and collaboration can happen in-solution.
  • Quick and easy access to data: Nordstrom teams can get access to vital information quicker than ever, and make smarter, more proactive business decisions.

The Nordstrom team has measured success in their implementation and highly recommends the use of FlexPLM’s Vendor Portal to improve collaboration and the overall business process; the company is already exploring ways to extend its use of FlexPLM to additional strategic suppliers, mills and raw material suppliers.

The Process

Before embarking on the project, Nordstrom assembled a steering committee made up of Subject Matter Experts, an influential executive, and PTC retail experts. The committee undertook a mapping and design initiative to understand what information was needed to be made accessible to suppliers, and what processes vendors should be responsible for.

A major realization was that everyone – from NPG’s own team to its vendors – had a stake in the project, so Nordstrom committed early to governance and transparency. The project team held kick-off meetings with vendors and onboarded each vendor in-person. They also created a Vendor Portal-focused newsletter that was sent to vendors that included tips, tricks and helpful information to help them through the change.

Nordstrom rolled-out Vendor Portal to three vendors during the pilot stage of the project before extending the project to an additional three vendors in wave one, and then eight vendors in wave two. Although some vendors already used FlexPLM’s Vendor Portal to work with other customers, in-country training was key to total adoption. Nordstrom advocates a hands-on approach, setting up dedicated classes and funding licenses for each supplier - supported by best practice materials, documentation, and video guidance.

The project also revealed opportunities for Nordstrom to re-evaluate and further strengthen its relationships with suppliers. The NPG team positioned Vendor Portal as a way of investing in their key supply chain partners and including them in the company’s strategic ambitions. Nordstrom now holds an annual vendor meeting and distributes awards, with the mantra that “we are only as successful as our vendors”.

Get the Results

Are you a FlexPLM user interested in working more closely with your suppliers? You could realize significant value by managing your sourcing and supply chain collaboration processes in PTC’s FlexPLM Vendor Portal.

Schedule a demonstration to get a head start on connecting with your suppliers.

  • PLM

About the Author

Blake Simms

Blake has an extensive international career in marketing and business development within the technology, fashion, retail and consumer products industries.

With a Degree in International Marketing Management, Strategy & Communications, Blake has worked for a variety of leading global organizations and supported them in developing and delivering their strategic vision and corporate goals.

As a Marketing Director, Blake has designed, implemented and executed both international and regional go-to-market strategies, with a strong focus on increasing brand awareness and reputation, developing acquisition/lead generation initiatives and delivering powerful sales-enablement tools.

Nordstrom Rolls Out FlexPLM Vendor Portal
Nordstrom recently rolled out the FlexPLM Vendor Portal to many of its suppliers, achieving total adoption and saving time and money on its route to market. Find out how.