Stephanie Clifford:

When Nadia Karim goes shopping, she doesn’t wait around for salespeople. She saves items from apps and Web sites on her cellphone as a shopping list. And as she browses one store — recently trying on Sam Edelman flats at Nordstrom — she uses the phone to check out styles at competitors like Macy’s.

“In all honesty, because I shop so much, I feel sometimes I know the brands better than some of the associates,” said Ms. Karim, 26, an analyst at Intel in Phoenix.

For a generation of shoppers raised on Google and e-commerce, the answer to “Can I help you?” is increasingly a firm “no,” even at retailers like Nordstrom that have built their reputations around customer service.

But instead of getting defensive, some stores and brands are embracing the change by creating new personal touches that feature gadgets rather than doting sales staff. Bobbi Brown has touch-screen televisions to demonstrate the perfect smoky eye, something that was once the exclusive domain of makeup artists. LeBron James’s shoe store in Miami has 50 iPads to describe its merchandise. Macy’s is testing cosmetics stations where tablets offer reviews and tips. And at C. Wonder, shoppers use a touchpad to personalize the lighting and music in dressing rooms (there is also a button in case, olden-days style, they need to call for help).

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