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Lluis
Martinez-Ribes

Shaping brands and experiences to please the brain,
with latest generation marketing

GranOptic, a reversed case of omni-channel

December 1st, 2016 · No Comments

I have been directing “Retail Innovation” joint module organized by ESADE Business School and the University St.Gallen (Switzerland) for ten years now. Many attendees in this course are Central-European senior managers. This year several participants came with an intention of discovering what to do with the excessive store space left due to the drastic increase in online shopping. Evidently, digital ways of buying are changing the retail game.

But how come on 7 May 2016 a well-known optician shop GranOptic.com, which used to sell exclusively online, opened its first physical shop in the barrio of Salamanca, one of Madrid’s most iconic neighbourhoods?

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It’s about omni-channel

So-called omni-channel is an omnipresent, most talked-about topic in professional forums. A topic which — finally — both the directors and the academics agree on. It has become essential and is here to stay.

Generally speaking, with omni-channel we usually refers to a company that sells through physical stores, and then, offers a web or an app for its customers to buy via internet. The customers are recognized and treated according to their personal characteristics, no matter the interface they decide to use to buy each time.

However, nowadays some companies reverse it by moving from the digital to the physical. GranOptic is a clear example of this kind of reversed omni-channel.

Getting to know GranOptic

GranOptic has operated on the internet since 2013, the time when this selling method didn’t have a prominent role in retail yet.

The qualified optician behind the project, Juan Carlos González del Álamo, had a clear business vision. He knew how to interpret the situation of his hardly differentiated, banalized and “commoditized” sector which competed more and more on price.

As a result, people were no longer considering prescription glasses as an implicating product; they perceived less risk of error when buying them. The playing field was designed so that people wouldn’t find acquiring eyeglasses online problematic, as long as the companies would offer a minimum guarantee, as GranOptic.com does.

GranOptic sells mainly different kinds of prescription and sunglasses, with a range of 180 brands, some of which are well-known (Boss, Carrera, Oakley, Adidas, Arnette, Police, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Alain Mikli, Ray-Ban, Dior, Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, etc.) at a discounted price. They offer a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee, free shipping on orders over 50 €, and of course, a secure payment.

74% of GranOptic.com’s clients are from outside Spain, so its customer service staff speaks various languages.

The company’s marketing activity is highly proactive; they offer, for example, the glasses worn by the cyclists of the Vuelta a España race.

Consequently, the company’s results are remarkably successful. According to the data from the end of August 2016, during the past 12 months the company’s turnover had grown by an impressive 98%. In addition, its customers rated their satisfaction level very high (8.1 out of 10) according to TrustPilot ratings.

The new challenge

In 2015, GranOptic was fully established, but its CEO was already visualizing new strategies. After reflecting the situation, three possible routes were arisen: to continue developing GranOptic.com, to open a physical store with a different approach from the ones in the sector, or to combine the latter two. The third option was agreed on, making the two commercial formats (physical and digital) merge into one.

Once decided, an innovation team was created, consisting of five people: the CEO, two trusted managers, and two consultants from a small, internationally experienced Barcelonian company specialised in retail and latest generation marketing. This team of five devised and developed the new omni-channel retail concept in just 3 months.

In the end, GranOptic relied on an extremely creative architect, who accepted the challenge of expressing the concept the innovation team had previously devised.

This is how, on 7 May 2016, Gran Optic opened its first physical store on Calle Goya 28, almost in the corner of the streets named after two great painters, Goya and Velázquez.

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GranOptic.com and GranOptic: the synergy between two shops

GranOptic’s Goya store seeks not only to offer a very comfortable shopping experience, but also to facilitate a truly exciting imagination.

That is why the shop’s scenography pivots on the semiotics of magical realism, excellently expressed by the architect, in the 400 m2 store space spread over 3 floors. Each floor transmits the desired meaning to the visitor through 5 elements: staging — better not call it decoration —, the appropriate assortment, services required, sales processes and subtly integrated technologies.

In this article we focus on the elements that particularly facilitate the synergy between the two stores:

The sales processes can be almost identical, since they are based on the same information system of the digital store (for example, the database of products, customers, etc.).

The mirrors customers use when trying the glasses on have a built-in cameras. The camera allows, if desired, the client to take pictures with the possible frames and send them to people who are not present at the moment, to ask for their opinion.

The customer service tables are fairly large interactive screens. There the clients and the specialist together personalise the glasses, integrating the best of the physical and the digital store: they interact with those whose opinion they find important, retrieve and re-observe the photos. They can touch the glasses they like the most or look for variants of frames in a considerably larger assortment on the web, check lens options with audiovisual help, and at all times, see in real time how the budget varies.

The aim is the clients feel taken care of by all the assistance: by others who are far away, by the specialist and by the interactive system itself. However, the help isn’t passive, but empowering: no one pressures and the client him or herself controls the evolution of the purchase, including the budget. This way, the decision taken is most certainly a wise choice when it comes to the aesthetics and visual health.

But how does the physical store affect the digital store?

When potential customers consider buying prescription glasses and enter the web, they discover the company owns this innovative physical store.This positive surprise creates great credibility.

And if GranOptic.com manages to generate even more peace in people’s mind when buying remotely via digital devices, the increase in sales can be enormous. Trusting the selling company is a scarce resource when a person buys for the first time on a website.

In short, GranOptic is not that much of an online company with a physical store, nor a physical store with a web. It is rather a retail ecosystem that improves customers’ quality of life when buying prescription glasses, and thereby, flees the terrible “commoditization” of its sector.
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(1. See the example of the glasses from the Vuelta a España http://blog.granoptic.com/gafas-de-sol-vuelta-ciclista/ )

(2. Source: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/granoptic.com )

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More information about GranOptic

The physical shop introduced by GranOptic (clic)
A video of the GranOptic shop (clic)

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Lluís Martínez-Ribes, november 2016.
Photos by GranOptic.

→ No CommentsTags: innovación · innovation · omnichannel · retail · shop · tienda · Uncategorized

Interpreting Media Markt’s Digital Store

July 19th, 2016 · No Comments

On November 18th 2015, Media Markt announced its opening of the sector’s “most technological store” in Getafe (Madrid) — a 2,400 square-metre shop where around 5,000 products could be found with electronic labels showing prices matching those on its website.  They said it had white, lower-level furniture, and that training courses would be provided. And it would offer a product-pickup Stop&Go service, a kind of drive-through service.

Despite Madrid’s being its flagship store, it failed to cause any rivers of ink to flow. It was an incremental evolution.

240 days later, the situation is radically different. On Saturday 16th July 2016, Media Markt opened its “Digital Store” in Barcelona’s city centre, at a site previously occupied by “Casa Danone”.  This store is going to create an impact not only in the sector, but also in the way electronic products are purchased.

What we can found

Walking along Avenida Diagonal — on the water side — we see a shop front that looks very different to any of the chain’s other stores, with signs that are not easy to read due to their position on the glass window.

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On the left-hand side, in the shop window, the movement of a restless robot can be seen attracting the looks of the passers-by. It is a great example of what a shop-window should be: a real ad, instead of a product-warehouse-shop-window.

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Its entrance is already special: no products can be seen, just a digital screen and people who greet you as you walk in.

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Afterwards, you see a number of zones (called “worlds” or “universes”) corresponding to conventional product categories: Image & Sound, Household appliances, IT, Telephones, and Fun & Photo.

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In each of these zones, no products are on display, but a full-sized digital wall (d-wall), where moving e-people invite you to touch the screen.

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On each d-wall there is an embedded “screen” showing you what is available on the mediamarkt.es website. In actual fact, its contents are the same as the website’s.

That is a wise and cheap way of creating a new pilot store, supported by economies of scope.

There, visitors can search for the product they are interested in, just as they would online.

It is very important to note the large number of staff offering to help visitors choose a product.

There are also zones with uncommon product categories, such as the phone protective-cover customisation, produced on the spot.

Every retail solution is built by three components (products, services and activities), with the second being the important one here. Specifically, business services such as financing, post-sale installation, phone contracts, digital photography printing from a variety of media, etc. become key services.

Once you have chosen your product, payment can be made at interactive kiosks — even with PayPal — and in less than two minutes you can pick up your product from a warehouse desk, with one single queue, where your turn will be announced. Previous purchases made online can also be picked up from here.

Essentially, this store is based on an old retail format that had been struggling to survive: the “catalogue showroom”, the leader of its type being Argos, in the UK. This British chain’s paper catalogues have already been replaced by interactive screens. In the new Media Markt store, such screens have got larger, more theatrical, to become d-walls.

Ultimately, it offers some non-commercial services that are very attractive to its visitors.

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The training and events area, next to a wall with an interactive projection where children can add their own drawings, which, once scanned, become part of the projected picture story.

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And finally, an area for experiencing virtual reality, as attractive as it is incipient, commercially speaking.

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Whether at this store or online — which is, in fact, the same — the purchased products can be collected from an uninterrupted 24-hour service, and handed out by the robot in the shop window.

Here, again, we observe that functionality (logistics) is combined with surprise and playfulness.

The store, from a management perspective

If we compare some of Media Markt’s various retail formulas, we can observe:

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The best 3 things about this store – from a management perspective

1
Its playful component, plus the use of the surprise effect starting at the shop façade with its robot, and continuing with its customising of accessories, its virtual reality area, etc.

2
The determination shown by this pilot store. It is a good example of how R&D should be done in retailing, testing to the maximum — focusing on a core idea — without overly worrying about mistakes, or about the investment in the pilot store. If approached with the “hand-brake” on, its conclusions would not help to learn, improve or rule out.

This store is proof of the clear support provided by Ferran Reverter, Spanish CEO, and the Managing Board, because they have had to make some hugely important decisions:

  • Removing most physical products from the store.
  • Having understood that you can no longer think in terms of online or offline shopping, but OnOff shopping. A large majority of customers visit the website before going to the physical store, or they do so once they are in it. As such, they have understood that the debate between a bricks-and-mortar store and the Internet cannot be resolved with incremental patches, but with a new business model.
  • Accepting that a new business model must be validated: a very different Profit & Loss Account, as well as an investment need very different to that of conventional stores.

3

Motivated and friendly staff who show their pride of belonging, aware that they are co-protagonists of an innovation.

The 2 things that could be improved upon by this store – from a management perspective

Both relate to the convenience (process) part of the shopping experience.

  • Firstly, given that the d-wall contents are the same as online, why would someone choose to travel to the store to use Media Markt’s website standing up, instead of sitting down on their own sofa? The answer is: because its salespeople’s help is very superior to online personal help; i.e., a chat.
  • Secondly, the way of filtering the products until finding the one that best suits the customer. Here, this process is done by focusing on the product’s features rather than on the customer’s. What happens when you do not know what the number of spins per minute on a washing machine means? That such variable is no longer a good filtering criterion.
Its positive side: this lack of customer-centricity is an endemic problem also suffered by most competitors.

Let’s not forget: Buying consists of ruling items out.

As a way of conclusion

Not many new things can be found in this retail concept but, as a whole, its meaning is different to that of existing stores within the sector. For example, a digital interactive wall had already been presented at Berlin’s World Retail Congress, in September 2011:

This is how I visualise the ideal way of using this store:

  • Try choosing your product sitting on your sofa, where you will be able to complement the information with that on other websites. Once you have made your product shortlist, go to the Digital Store, where you will find exceptional, super-motivated, smiling staff to help you choose the product. You may be able to leave “wearing it”, or a robot may hand it to you on Sunday, on your way to (or after) an evening out.

Media Markt, which had not been quick to react to digitisation, is now not only up-to-date but it is leaping ahead. Paradoxically, it is doing so by using the old showroom-catalogue format, a website-shop with the possibility of being the worst of both worlds. However, by adding 3 ingredients (surprise-playfulness, great staff, and very well-thought-out services) it has created the catalogue showroom 2.0, a new omnichannel benchmark.

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Lluís Martínez-Ribes, june 2016.
Photos by the same author.
More info: http://specials.mediamarkt.es/digital-store

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Retail evolution in parallel with Customers’ life evolution

February 12th, 2016 · No Comments

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Sculpture and photography by Lluís Martínez-Ribes

No doubt. Retail is changing continuously, usually silently, sometimes in a more disruptive way.

Here you can see a possible parallel evolution between Customers’ life and contexts, and the main retail formats.

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Clic to enlarge image

I wonder if this self-explanatory chart may help. If not, I can add more details at the comments.

→ No CommentsTags: cliente-persona · context · Contexto · customer-people · omnichannel · OnOff · retail