Case Study: Nordstrom Rewards

March 2015 - May 2016

Project purpose
Integrate the new Nordstrom rewards program into store POS systems for mobile and tablet registers, US and Canadian stores. The requirement was to execute on a prioritized feature set, using UI designed for the pilot program.


The existing UI from the pilot posed many usability challenges, and the program design was confusing and antiquated. The compromise was to make quick fixes and launch the rewards program. I then led a complete redesign of the product and interface for stores, while influencing the program design. I am also supporting the visual design of a POS redesign in parallel.


Framing the problem

Many voices in the design and product community emphasize the importance of “falling in love with problems.” One of the more involved and time consuming parts of this process was understanding and prioritizing the goals of objectives of two distinctly different users: customers and salespeople.

  • Customers want their loyalty to Nordstrom to be recognized and rewarded
  • Customers are not interested in a credit or debit card with a retailer they do not have a strong relationship with
  • Many younger customers do not have established credit to open a card

While customers are the end user, salespeople are often the primary interface user, and facilitator of the customer experience.

  • Salespeople need to identify a Rewards customer when they are shopping
  • Salespeople need to help a customer join or participate in the Rewards program
  • Salespeople need to help cardholders understand how the Rewards program has changed and how it impacts them
"The role of our salesperson is to solve the customer's problem. My role is to provide the tools that assist them in serving their customers."

From vision to delivery

Designing for store experiences encompasses many parts, including marketing and visual design of signage and print materials. My role in the working team was to design for the hardware and software that make up our modern equivalent of the cash register (POS, or Point of Service). Unlike a website or personal mobile device, POS poses a few unique design constraints:

  • 3rd party software and interface to work with
  • Integrating secure payment methods (swipe or insert your card)
  • Designing for the fixed tablet registers and mobile registers concurrently
  • Integrating usability feedback from both customers and salespeople

A vision was set to maximize speed, convenience, and delight for anyone interacting with Rewards in our stores. In collaboration with my working partners, strategy, goals, and features were defined before building.


At a high level, this project is a great example of designing a complex solution within inflexible constraints. Strategic thinking, clear communication and many months of relentless focus helped us cross the threshold from concept to delivery. What I learned:

  • Build a strong relationship with the person coding and building your designs
  • Be flexible and embrace change
  • Even when the options are limited, never lose sight of the vision