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IADS General Manager TV interview on the future of department stores – BFM Business

press 15 December 2020 Interview

IADS General Manager Selvane Mohandas du Ménil gave an interview and presented the IADS White Paper "Global pandemic, local department stores" on French television.
Watch the interview and get the transcription below.

What role will play department stores in a post-Covid world?

BFM: What can we do until the international tourists return?

Selvane Mohandas du Ménil: First of all, you learn to talk differently to new clients. In fact, we have to remember how we used to talk to our clients. We have some good learners in the association: I am thinking in particular of Breuninger, in Germany, whose privileged relationship with its clients allows to call them by FaceTime or WhatsApp. If you know the Germans, you know that in the social sphere, it's often pretty formal, so it gives an idea of the level of intimacy that the shop can have with them. To speak differently, you have to tell them different things and that first means reworking the offer. You don't sell the same thing to a tourist customer who come to visit a town as you do to a regular local customer. On a global level, it means a real shift in terms of purchase: fashion and cosmetics have had very negative figures lately, whereas we are witnessing a very big growth in sportswear, home, decoration and care. This means that you have to tell different things and offer different products to different customers to whom you address yourself differently.

BFM: On the issue of digitalisation, the department stores need to speed up. They don't have a choice, do they?

SMdM: They have accelerated! "Digitalisation" actually concerns two different things: e-commerce, that's 20/23% of sales, but also digital activation, the means to proceed with online purchases, and there we are at about 50% of sales. The e-commerce part has now become imperative. For example, among our members: Sogo in Hong Kong or Beco in Venezuela, who were the last to not have an e-commerce platform, have launched it. We can no longer do without it. It works! The latest trends we have noticed in Europe are, for "Black Friday": +30% for Galeries Lafayette, as for Magasin du Nord in Denmark, +50% for Breuninger in Germany, +100% for Manor in Switzerland. So, it works. But the main question is: how do we use the digital tool to facilitate the customer journey and to ensure that the shop is always at the centre of this journey? On this point, what struck me was the example of SM in the Philippines, which has set up a system that allows you to contact one of its shops by email, text or over the phone: in concrete terms, you virtually walk around the shop, place an order and it's delivered to you the same day. It was launched in April, rolled out to 65 shops in one month and was available in May. This service, which did not exist before, now generates 15% of the chain's daily turnover. 

BFM: Many French department stores have expanded into the provinces. Should shops in smaller towns be closed, or should they be reinvented?

SMdM: Reinvent them! The shop actually becomes part of an ecosystem: digital technology is taking up the whole situation and we must ask ourselves how we use the shop in the customer journey. It certainly doesn't condemn the shop, it just means reinventing it, rethinking the services offered there and the message addressed to the customer.

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