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Physical retail as the guardian of the bond both inside and ouside the store

From September 10-12, Paris Retail Week brought together industry players: 40,000 visitors, 800 exhibitors and 350 speakers. Here’s a spotlight on Cécile Poujade, Associate Retail and International Director at Saguez & Partners, whose presentation was entitled “Places create bonds.”

What’s the future of physical retail?

In 2017, Alibaba broke its single-day online sales record, earning more than $25.3 billion in revenue in 24 hours. It was enough to give physical store locations something to sweat about in the face of the powerful giants of e-commerce. Far from being left for dead, the physical store must nevertheless reinvent itself to ensure its new role.

“Doing” business once meant having a product to sell and a place to sell it. Today commerce no longer depends on a place or a moment since it happens everywhere, by everyone, at any time of every day. This has upset the very reason for being for store locations: by definition they no longer offer purely transactional value, but relational value as they become responsive places of connection between brands and customers.

“The job of the designer is to observe people, not just consumers, and therefore to understand new usage needs,” explains Cécile Poujade. “We find two types of stores: the useful (speed, practicality, efficiency) and the enjoyable (empathy, relationships, experiences). It will be more often for the latter than one bothers to make the trip. Physical commerce is the end of boring commerce.” Faced with the giants of e-commerce, physical stores have many advantages: scripting of the offer, experiencing the product, personal relationships, empathy, a smile…

The Four Big Convictions of Retail Design

The store as keeper of bonds
The physical location has a redefined role: it becomes the guardian of the link – bond inside and outside the store – with the brand, the customers and the community. “We no longer talk about a customer journey but about customer experiences. The logic of asking how much does it earn me per square meter is over, replaced by asking how much service do I offer and how many relationships do I generate per square meter,” explains Cécile Poujade.

Compelling “places” nurture desire
An “enjoyable” store must surprise, move and create a genuine emotional connection between the brand and its loyal customers to bring them in and encourage them to return. The attachment to the brand is essential; it must nurture desire. Physical space is the best way lever to maintain this desirability. It’s where the passion of a profession, client satisfaction and loyalty is expressed. Showing gratitude to everyone who makes the effort to travel to a physical location is vital to maintaining and guarding the customer bond both inside and outside the store.

Break the chains: find inspiration and lightness
Points of sale must no longer be standardized. There is nothing more boring than seeing identical store signage, architecture and design 30 times in one city. Locations must also differentiate themselves with an offer that is more targeted to the surrounding environment.

Create mixed-need hybrid spaces
“With many, we are stronger” is the motto of the new “retail cocktail.” For physical shops, the challenge is to generate traffic. The idea is to combine market concepts to create additional reasons to bring people into the store. The store becomes a place to stroll or experience, a destination where everything mixes together (multi-offer, multi-services).

A new method?

Design draws people together. The customers of today and tomorrow are looking for new experiences that will make shopping fun. Clients want shopping to feel like a leisure activity and a place of commerce to be a living space. “We no longer talk about shopping but hosping—with the added dimension of hospitality, borrowed from the hotel industry, becoming more and more important,” says Cécile Poujade. Saguez & Partners has always had an innovative approach to constructing harmonious customer journeys that comprise both the useful and the experiential elements of multi-channel commerce. From the craftsperson to the large network, and the independent shop to the department store or shopping center, we innovate to create striking market-oriented concepts that give rise to a new art of living.

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