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
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
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
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
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.
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offline shopping outdated today?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
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
This article was originally published on FashionUnited FR.
Photo : Arnaud Gallet, director of Paris Retail Week