Between physical and digital: the experiential locations that are redefining retail

Par : HUB Institute
5 janvier 2016
Temps de lecture : 5 min

In a context where customer experience is at the center of marketing executives' preoccupations, brands have a desire to create stronger bonds with their clients. Web-to-store is a new development for pure players and physical points of sales are boosting their inspiration to offer unique customer experiences.

In a context where customer experience is at the center of marketing executives' preoccupations, brands have a desire to create stronger bonds with their clients. Web-to-store is a new development for pure players and physical points of sales are boosting their inspiration to offer unique customer experiences. Is phygital retail a fashion trend or a structural one? Let's take a look at three locations recently inaugurated: Sephora Flash, the Gemmyo showroom and the Sézane apartment. This article on phygital retail was co-written in partnership with Grazia (Mondadori) for the digital luxury blog LeLuxeEstVivant.  

Sephora Flash, the new generation connected store

Launched on October 21st, the Sephora Flash store wishes to demonstrate how to maximize the potential of a small retail space thanks to digital. Indeed, the point of sale offers 3 500 references in its 130 m² versus 6 000 references and an average of 400 m² in its other stores. However, the use of digital enables clients to access the 14 000 products in Sephora's catalogue. The Sephora Flash shop brings visitors into a connected atmosphere as soon as they set foot inside with a robot in charge of greeting them and a screen presenting the different concepts offered: an eyelash bar, a selfie-mirror, a machine that indicates what your skin complexion is, a sample distributor ... Each customer has a small card called a "digital cart" that allows them to view the full catalogue on the various screens in the store or order products by simply setting a product on a connected terminal that identifies it in the catalogue. One the items are ordered, customers can have them sent to their house or pick them up in store the following day. This concept allows Sephora to both push its brand image with a highly innovative positioning and increase its presence in France at lower costs, especially in city centers.  

The online jeweller Gemmyo opens a showroom at the request of its customers

    LeLuxeEstVivant spoke with Pauline Laigneau, co-founder of the online jewellery shop GemmyoThis pure player inaugurated its showroom in October with, once again, the desire to allow customers to try on its products on site then order them online thanks to the tablets provided in the showroom.
« It took us 4 years to open a physical location because Internet was in our DNA, and we were not convinced it was worth it. We ended up giving in to temptation because a lot of customers asked us to take the plunge. » « The showroom is a place to try out the products, a place of experience and discovery of the brand. We opted for a digital showroom. It is a beautiful place where we present our high-end jewellery know-how, our craftsmanship (through the exhibition of some beautiful pieces), but in a young, cheerful and friendly environment: you find the pink kitten from the advertising campaign, pop and pastel colours, a musical atmosphere, dragibus candies and goodies that we offer our customers. There are also tablets to place your order. »   « The showroom is on two floors: the ground floor is for clients who come spontaneously and want to order quickly; upstairs, a very cozy living room where we receives on appointment for exceptional jewellery like engagement rings. The promise is to devote all the time they need to care for them. These are therefore two different experiences, depending on the customer needs. »   « The staff is composed of members of the Gemmyo team instead of salespeople. We take turns to come to share and advise clients, who get to turn to high-end speakers and experts in precious stones (for instance, the Quality Control Director). »   « The waiting time for the product is part of the pleasure. After the order, an advisor personally calls each client, then you receive an email at each step of the creation of your jewel (sizing, etc.). When the jewel arrives, it already comes with a story - that is part of the experience. The wait, the anticipation make it an object of desire. »  

Pauline Laigneau, Co-founder of Gemmyo

showroom-gemmyo-drawing The showroom is a way for Gemmyo to create a human and personalised contact with its clients, based on an experience, in a freer and more direct way than on the internet store, but at a lower cost than a shop. Furthermore, it helps expand the target audience to individuals who are reluctant to buy online (beyond the heart of the upper socio-professional thirty-something core target) and improve conversion.  

Sézane prolongs the web experience with its Parisian apartment

Also launched last October 21st, the Sézane apartment is a showroom in which over 300 references are displayed. This cosy and high design space invites one to relaxation, giving clients the impression of being in a living space instead of a commercial one. The decoration of the apartment is uncluttered and tasteful, noting is left to chance: the furniture, flowers and books are in the colours of the brand's website. Sézane's DNA is echoed within these walls. One comes here to hang out, discuss, learn, share and try. If the customer does not buy, this does not affect the quality of service offered by the staff. However, if the customer does wish to buy something, he or she cannot do so onsite but online so computers and tablets are available in the apartment to place orders. 000155772_91 000155760_91 000155787_91

What to remember

Phygital retail seems to be a major underlying trend as it applies the advantages of the digital world to physical spaces. It namely involves combining the reassurance of a physical point of contact, the possibility of dramatisation or experiential immersion of a location with the information, commercial and interactive richness of the digital world. However, it would be wrong to believe that the phygital is a simple transposition of an e-commerce site into a place of physical sales. As we demonstrated with these three examples, successful experiences are first and foremost primarily people-centric.  
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