PARIS — When Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées opened in 2019, many options it launched had been pretty new to French retail.
The shop was designed to replicate the way in which individuals store on-line, with merchandise grouped by kinds and tendencies, as an alternative of manufacturers, and a employees of 300 “private stylists,” recruited by way of Instagram, appearing as a mix of fashion and pattern specialists, cultural influencers and high-end lodge concierges.
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Positioned in a hovering Artwork Deco constructing, renovated by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the shop launched one-of-a-kind ideas reminiscent of Citron, a Provençal-style café designed by Simon Porte Jacquemus, and a high quality jewellery area run in partnership with Dover Avenue Market.
The venture was affected by challenges from the outset: the opening was delayed because of violent anti-government protests by the gilets jaunes motion. Then got here a 50-day transport strike in the course of the essential vacation season, and at last, the coronavirus pandemic.
However Nadia Dhouib, the architect of the shop’s technique, says the final 18 months have solely confirmed her imaginative and prescient of the way forward for retail.
“What we designed was a spot that delivers an actual expertise in-store, the place the act of buying is nearly secondary,” she says. “Lots of people had been confused at first, saying they didn’t perceive the expertise, however at the moment, it appears that evidently we’re shifting more and more on this course. Individuals have modified their habits.”
Since leaving her job as managing director of Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées in Could 2020, after a 15-year profession at Galeries Lafayette Group, she has based her personal retail consultancy, Rethinkretail Advisory, which helps manufacturers, buyers and start-ups within the retail and vogue industries to rework and develop new enterprise fashions.
As repeated retailer closures have accelerated the migration of shoppers on-line, she recommends that retailers capitalize on the digital buyer relationships they had been pressured to develop throughout lockdown and double down on memorable experiences.
“You need to give individuals new causes to enter a retailer. Retail at the moment is competing with: ‘Do I’m going to a restaurant or an artwork gallery, or hang around with buddies?’” she continued. “The shops that succeed are those that may recreate that feeling.”
She factors to the current opening of Kith’s flagship in Paris, situated within the historic Pershing Corridor Constructing, which features a Kith for Sadelle’s restaurant and a rotating activation area, as additional proof of the pattern.
“A retailer like Kith in Paris is all about expertise,” stated Dhouib. “Individuals go to those locations to see and be seen, which is attention-grabbing. You don’t get that in any respect with the digital expertise, because it’s fully nameless.”
Nonetheless, she’s slightly over ready-made Instagram corners. “As we speak, individuals are able to taking a pleasant image wherever they’re. You now not want a chosen nook, even when creating an Instagram-friendly design was one thing we thought of quite a bit on the Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées retailer,” she stated.
“I feel individuals are previous that now. They’ve develop into so professional at getting the shot, they don’t want you to set it up for them. They need to discover one of the best angle for them, one thing that hasn’t been dictated to them,” Dhouib reasoned.
One factor she doesn’t see going away is the pattern for gross sales associates to behave as private customers. Throughout lockdown, when organising appointments to go to shops turned a necessity, many workers established new relationships with present and potential prospects by way of textual content message or WhatsApp.
“A few years in the past, that also felt slightly American or overdone by French requirements. Individuals thought that if a gross sales adviser despatched them a message, it was intrusive. As we speak, it’s develop into the norm. So the query is, how do you rework that and professionalize it in order that this pattern doesn’t fade away?” she requested.
“If retailers lose that, it’s an actual step backward, so I feel even for those who’re a small firm, it’s essential to develop an actual buyer relationship administration database,” she added. “It sounds straightforward, however it’s not. Loads of manufacturers have the gross sales drive, however they’re not essentially geared up to know and construction a CRM software.”
As soon as the fundamental contact particulars are within the system, it’s essential to tailor the content material and frequency of the messages to the target market.
“Figuring out how usually to contact your buyer is an actual balancing act. I work with some e-tailers and I inform them, ‘Guys, a message per day is quite a bit,’” she stated. “I’d attempt to work on software program that lets you calculate what number of messages on common an individual is prepared to obtain with out unsubscribing.”
Equally essential is making a fluid expertise between the web outreach and the precise expertise in-store. “You need to do it in a manner that’s pure, constant and related,” she stated.
“For smaller retailers, the problem is learn how to produce content material for Instagram and activate their buyer base. It’s about discovering the suitable tone of voice in order that it’s distinctive and attracts followers. There aren’t any straightforward solutions, however I feel the reply lies of their DNA and their group,” she stated.
“This may additionally be a possibility for retailers to offer their groups each a framework, but in addition a certain quantity of freedom,” she added. “It’s essential to empower gross sales associates to make them take pleasure in what they do.”
For big teams like luxurious conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the place the hierarchy tends to be extra inflexible, the important thing lies in delivering impeccable service, she stated.
“It doesn’t require a giant technological breakthrough. It’s extra about with the ability to entry details about the supply of various sizes and colours, to essentially deepen the omnichannel facet of procuring,” she stated. “What’s lacking is a sure fluidity.”
Going ahead, Dhouib sees know-how taking part in an ever greater position in shops. Along with the rising tendencies of stay procuring and cell fee terminals, she foresees extra cashier-less shops the place you scan your card on the entrance, and objects are routinely deducted — alongside the traces of Amazon’s Simply Stroll Out technology-enabled shops within the U.S. and U.Okay.
Dhouib additionally expects rising use of facial recognition to safe funds and forecast foot visitors in shops. “For me, the pandemic is an accelerator for that kind of factor,” she stated.
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