IADS Exclusive - Transformation in retail: Innovative Thinking Learnings from Chinese social media: a talk with Mobile Now and Clientela

IADS Exclusive July 2022 Selvane Mohandas du Ménil

Among the many consequences for retail stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, which we are exploring at length, a major one is the international tourism crash and the closure of China, which historically steadily contributed to department store companies’ growth in the past years. Even considering the recent closures taking place in Shanghai, Beijing and other Chinese cities, the business has flourished domestically for the past 2 years in China and the acceleration of retail digitization has also taken place there. The road seems to be still very bumpy, but there is definitively a light at the end of the tunnel. What can we learn from what took place in China and are there lessons to have in mind? To answer this question, we interviewed two specialists from Mobile Now Group and Clientela. 

Mobile Now Group, founded in 2009, is a development studio with a focus on digital experiences, products, and platforms. With offices in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Changsha, in addition to their Singapore office, they have a commanding understanding of the Chinese market and its evolution. They have worked on more than 100 projects with leading companies in the world such as Richemont, Cartier, IWC, Montblanc, Sephora, DFS, Hennessy, Lane Crawford, Shiseido, NARS, SMCP, La Samaritaine, and others. 

Clientela, a software company based in New York founded in 2010, has developed a complete suite of acquisition, clienteling and retail operations for stores, in order to cater to customers’ needs through an optimal experience, while maximizing efficiency and profitability for retailers. They have developed solutions for several leading global brands, such as Cartier, Benefit Cosmetics, Marc Jacobs, Chloé, MaxMara, and Carolina Herrera, and they have led a pilot project with IADS member Magasin du Nord in Denmark. 

Mobile Now and Clientela partnered in 2020 realizing that retail clients needed a global clienteling approach that brings together two important approaches:

  • The maturity and knowledge of global clienteling best practices,
  • The specificity of the Chinese digital ecosystem, especially in mobility, social commerce, and O2O commerce. 

We interviewed Thomas Meyer, co-founder of Mobile Now, and Arnaud Barbelet, COO and partner at Clientela. Thomas spent 20+ years in Asia (14 in China) and most of his career in tech and mobile development before co-creating Mobile Now Group 12 years ago, with experiences at Wunderman, OgilvyOne, and WPP among others. Arnaud has 18+ years of experience in start-up development centred on customer approach and understanding. He brings a complementary eye to what’s going on in China and helps draw conclusions for retailers from other regions.

IADS provides its members with a weekly in-depth analysis on retail-oriented topics. This is an example of the themes the Association regularly addresses, and the topic of an article from the IADS members-only newsletter date 13 July 2022.

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