Having already made their mark on the food sector, local stores are now popping up more frequently in other sectors, bringing what are by now well-developed concepts to our city centres. The recent opening of new Parisian ‘city’ stores by Darty, Decathlon and Ikea in particular has caught the attention of Altavia Shoppermind Managing Director Jean-Marc Mégnin.
Following years of trial and error, research and testing, innovative local business-based concepts are starting to become more commonplace in city centres and in areas other than the food sector, with an offering that has by now become very advanced indeed.
Darty, for example, recently opened a 110m2 store in the Cardinet station district of Paris’s 17th arrondissement. This small store, known as a ‘contact point’, is ten times smaller than a traditional Darty store and primarily stocks small electrical appliances and telephonic and multimedia devices, although customers do have the option of purchasing products, notably including large electrical appliances and bulky goods, from the entire Darty range using the digital systems provided in store. “One of the main benefits of this format is that it helps strike a good balance between digitalisation and the personal aspect”, Jean-Marc Mégnin explains. “Customers aren’t just left to their own devices with a tablet that serves the sole purpose of registering transactions but can in fact speak to a salesperson who is on hand to deal with any queries they may have”. A seating area complete with table and sofa has even been incorporated to provide a quiet space where customers can chat with an adviser.
Of course, owing to the lack of space, this ‘contact point’ carries no stock, but customers can, however, have goods delivered to their homes a few hours later. So what’s the secret to this sort of responsiveness? The availability of stock at the Darty Ternes and Darty Saint-Ouen branches, which manage product shipment themselves.
Decathlon, meanwhile, is continuing to develop its local concept with the opening of a new Decathlon City in Batignolles. The 400m2 store offers customers a range of products designed to reflect their lifestyles (cycling, fitness, boxing, etc.), along with personal trainers with contact at all of the sports clubs in the area. “Decathlon made the conscious decision not to focus on selling products but rather to act as a sort of coordinator, with the emphasis very much on the interpersonal aspect and involving all local sports partners”, Jean-Marc Mégnin explains. “The results have been very positive”.
Ikea has also taken heed of this great appetite on the part of consumers for keeping things local, with the Swedish company launching a new 5400m2 store concept on Boulevard de la Madeleine last May. “The aim here, too, was to offer the customer more than just the opportunity to buy a product”, explains Jean-Marc Mégnin. “Computers have been set up in various parts of the store to give shoppers somewhere to sit and chat with an adviser. The Kitchens showroom, for example, now incorporates some twenty or so machines for customers to use at their leisure to help them to outline their plans and even finalise them in 3D”.
Taking only sales of physical products sold in these new local stores into account, profitability per m2 is certainly nothing to get excited about, but it is important now, as brands have come to understand, to do away with the distinction between offline and online sales, which is why sales generated through both channels are now combined when it comes to calculating turnover. “These sorts of formats are a successful combination of digital and interpersonal, offline and online elements, and they reflect just how much this idea of proximity has matured”, Jean-Marc Mégnin concludes. “The new generations will appreciate the human resources allocated to fostering good customer relations, over and above simply selling a product”.