Insight: Made.com builds its online brand through rich in-store experience
Creative brand Made.com is building showrooms around Europe purely to enhance its brand and to give customers a great experience as opposed to directly driving sales.
Speaking at the retail property industry conference MAPIC in France this week Philippe Chainieux, chief executive of Made.com says: “It’s about the brand experience. The number one objective is to engage with the audience. The showrooms are not a retail channel to drive revenues, they are an extension of our online business.”
This is reflected in the personnel recruited for the stores who are trained with design knowledge. “It’s all about the people in the stores who are not incentivised on sales as it is all about giving [the customers] the experience,” he says.
This approach is based on the origins of the company as a pure-play and this has continued with Chainieux stating that even with seven showrooms in the mix it remains the case that 100% of Made.com sales start and finish online. This means that it is not necessary to place the stores in the centre of cities because customers are driven to them by their online experience. “They are destination stores whose traffic has been generated via online,” he suggests.
By focusing in this way, Chainieux says the stores do not have the complexity of having to hold stock and they only showcase a small - regularly changing - mix of products. Each showroom measures 500-1,000 squre metres and can only hold a single-digit percentage of the company’s total number of SKUs.
There is also a focus on making them differentiated from regular stores. The Paris outlet is set in a courtyard and the forthcoming Amsterdam unit is being incorporated into a converted town house. This will add to the existing estate of seven showrooms that comprise three in the UK, along with single units in Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, and at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
“The physical footprint is part of the overall brand proposition. When we open in a new market it takes a couple of years to build up the business and get traction. This reinforces the brand proposition,” says Chainieux, adding that the company likes to work with property owners who can help it build its story by adapting their properties.
A major part of the appeal of the stores for Made.com is that they allow it to engage with the local community - through events, the launch of new categories, having designers meet customers, and also partnering with local artists.
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