This time of year is especially busy for retailers. In France, as in many other countries around the world, the retail rush is back once again. Brick and mortar shops and online retailers double their efforts to meet customer expectations. It’s the ideal moment for brands and retailers to demonstrate their capacity to innovate and test services that can be rolled out depending on customer feedback.
Here’s a quick overview of the retail trends this year.
The perfect time to open new sales outlets
Opening a shop during the holiday season is ideal because retailers are sure to take advantage of the numerous shoppers looking for ideas to spoil their loved ones.
No surprise then that since October, shop openings have intensified – the Vill’Up Shopping Centre near La Villette, the new Apple Store at the Marché Saint Germain, the historic Fauchon boutique at the Place de la Madeleine (following 10 months of refurbishment), not forgetting the arrival on the scene of foreign brands also jostling for space (Rituals, Urban Decay, Jordan, etc).
Pop-up stores by the thousands
For stores and online sellers, Christmas is also a good time to open temporary retail outlets and to promote special offers tailored specifically for the occasion. H&M has made a statement by setting up a Christmas Gifts pop-up store within its Champs Elysées branch, offering a selection of festive-themed items from its H&M Home and H&M Kids collections (8th to 24th December).
Or how about the Fnac at Ternes that decided to launch a concept store at the end of November and running until 8th January, offering innovative connected products from start-ups from around the world. In the land of online pure-players, Cdiscount was the centre of attention for the space of one weekend when it opened its “QG du Père Noël” (Santa’s HQ) in Paris, where customers could discover its range of toys in a real-world environment.
French Tech also distinguished itself by establishing its first ever pop-up store the “Noël de la French Tech” (French Tech Christmas) within the Atelier Renault from 16th November to 8th January. Alongside the noeldelafrenchtech.fr website launched in 2014, French Tech has taken a major step forward by allowing start-ups to present a selection of brand new and exclusive innovative items to the general public under the slogan “Imaginés in France, conçus in France, offerts in France” (Created in France, built in France, given in France).
Technology at the service of Christmas magic
Right now, retailers are busy devising new ways to help shoppers enjoy meaningful experiences and allow them to become immersed in the characteristic spirit of Christmas. The “#BigNoël” of Orange is a good example, with its virtual 30-metre high Christmas tree projected onto the facade of its flagship store at Opéra and animated window displays showing Christmas-themed images thought up by passers-by with the help of hostesses equipped with hand-held tablets.
Another impressive event from the Galeries Lafayette was created using an Augmented Reality Application, where customers can see polar bears come to life in the department store, around its famous Christmas tree, in the magical world of its 2016 theme “Noël Extra Polaire” (Extra Polar Christmas) and watch the dome become covered in snow.
Home delivery – to alleviate the never-ending stress of shopping
In a bid to guide customers from start to finish through their shopping experience, some retailers have come up with new delivery ideas. The BHV Marais paired up with Colissimo to set up a pop-up corner ensuring a seamless shopping experience – with “j’achète, j’emballe et j’envoie ” (buy, wrap & send), customers get their shopping delivered straight to their door!
In the pure-player environment, Amazon has once again made a name for itself by pushing delivery to the limit. This year, with the help of its 31 distribution centres across Europe, Amazon Premium allows customers to order their last-minute gifts up until 1pm on 24th December and still get delivery in Paris, main cities in the Paris area, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille that same evening between 7pm-10pm.
Collaborative partnerships bringing the Christmas spirit to life
Sharing is the name of the game at this time of year and some great initiatives deserve a special mention. The MAIF and Ulule came together for a weekend to organise “La Fabrique de Noël” (The Christmas Factory) in Paris, the first-ever 100% Collaborative Economy Christmas Market. Parisians were able to discover creations by young entrepreneurs financed by Ulule and participate in Christmas decoration and design table-lamp workshops to offer as gifts to their loved ones.
As for Gémo, they decided to set up a clothing and shoe hire service in 5 of their stores from 12th December until 7th January so people can dress up for the occasion without breaking the bank!
Two prospective initiatives spotted in the UK
In the same spirit of sharing, Lidl created a buzz by inviting customers to tweet in a bid to bring down the prices of top Christmas fare such as lobster and other prime foodstuffs. The “Social Price Drop” enabled Lidl’s customers to snap up bargains with up to 50% discount and gave the supermarket the opportunity to organise a special stand promoting the offer in its brick and mortar shops. Thanks to widespread media coverage, the hard discounter was able to capitalise further on its already favourable public opinion.
Let’s finish on an entertaining note with eBay who opened an “Emotional Powered Store” for 2 days in London. In this pop-up store, customers were encouraged to think hard about a loved one so their feelings could be analysed using facial recognition and biometric data to then generate a choice of suggested gifts that would appeal to the person they were thinking about. Shoppers’ emotions were transposed onto a big screen and the icing on the cake was that a proportion of the profits from the event were donated to charity.
Season’s greetings from the #ParisRetailWeek Team!