Paris Retail Week showcases 600 companies reshaping future retail trends

Europe's biggest retail fair Paris Retail Week kicks off today. FashionUnited spoke with its CEO Arnaud Gallet about the major challenges that lie ahead for the fashion retail sector.

Does in-store shopping still have a place in the fashion industry in the digital age?

Arnaud Gallet: Yes. More than ever and especially with fashion, which by its nature is an emotional sector, where the customer experience - which serves as a litmus test - plays a major role. We are witnessing the return of the store with a vengeance. According to a recent study by Havas Paris, for 82 percent of French people of all ages, touching a product is an integral part of the pleasure of shopping.

The customer experience is vital, which is why stores must increasingly be designed as a place where shoppers feel at home. The challenge for retailers and brands is how to make a name for themselves. An example that springs to mind is Muji, which recently opened a third hotel in Tokyo. The bedrooms are decorated with furniture and decorative accessories from the brand's collections, which the customer can discover at leisure, and some of the items present can be purchased a few floors down at the Muji store.

We are also seeing the emergence of a more radical approach by retailers: 70 percent of consumers think that stores look the same. As a result, brands and labels are aware of the need to stand out. Some of them are moving towards a high degree of specialisation - a mono-product, offering the customer an outstanding in-depth service.

Digital technology has changed everything in terms of approach and customer relations. Omni-channel shopping is king. How do fashion labels gain a better insight into the mindset of today's much-sought-after consumer?

In this field, artificial intelligence and data are obviously crucial to deepening knowledge of the customer’s tastes and requirements, and to being able to provide a more tailored consultation service. Just look at Amazon Go which plans to open 3,000 stores worldwide by 2021. They are equipped with cameras to capture consumers’ behaviour.

Isn’t this contrary to the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations)?

In Europe, in France, there are barriers to overcome, of course. But experience shows that consumers are prepared to provide more personal information when provided with increased services and added value.

Paris Retail Week showcases 600 companies reshaping future retail trends

Aren’t notions like pure players and actual stores or online and offline shopping outdated today?

Absolutely. Thinking about in-store and online retail separately is a serious mistake. The consumer's experience is multifaceted: he or she indiscriminately browses in stores and online. This is also changing the role of the seller. And, once again, with the arrival of the Amazon Go or Zalando stores, we can see that the notions of in-store and online retail are intertwined. The two are intrinsically linked and complement each other. It is one single business.

What are the major trends in mobile shopping?

Payment is becoming increasingly fluid and sometimes dissociated from the product selection process. For example, Zalando has a new ‘Try now, pay later’ service while Amazon has eliminated queues in its stores by allowing customers to pay via their Amazon account.

How do fashion labels meet environmental regulations in their stores nowadays?

This is indeed a major challenge. There is a strong trend towards environmentally friendly and second-hand fashion. According to the Havas Paris study, 80 percent of French people feel that the fashion industry generates too much waste. As a result, new initiatives are plentiful. The North Sails company, for example, launched its Renewed line, based on used and refurbished collections. Meanwhile, the Leclerc brand sells second-hand clothing in some of its stores.

We are also seeing changes in terms of store design and layout, with the use of eco-designed materials, or at the very least raw materials, and LED lighting. Indeed, Paris Retail Week 2019 is setting the tone: 43 percent of our stands will be reused, which is a very significant proportion for our first edition.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited FR.

Photo : Arnaud Gallet, director of Paris Retail Week


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