Dutch e-tailer Coolblue is opening its first Belgian Coolblue XXL store in Ghent, replacing the smaller store in nearby Lochristi later this year. There already are three stores of the same format in the Netherlands.
Gaining physical strength
The company that started out as a pure online player in 1999, has already become an international chain with eleven stores in Belgium and the Netherlands. Three of those follow the new 'extra extra large' concept, with a fourth one - and the first one in Belgium - to open this autumn. The 1200 sqm store will offer customers advice, a pick-up point and after-sale service.
Coolblue's founder oprichter Pieter Zwart believes in the strength of physical stores: not only does he "know that customers already have an idea which product they want, but also that they want to try it in real life before buying it", but he also believes in what he calls the "stone through the window"-principle: online sales can rise by up to 50 % around a physical store, as customers know they have a place to go to with complaints - "they know that if they are really angry, they could throw a stone through the window to let us know", he explained in a 2013 interview.
The store in Lochristi, three times smaller than its successor in Ghent, opened in 2013 as Belgium's second Coolblue store following Antwerp. Since then, the company has opened another store in Zaventem (near Brussels), to cater for its growing French-speaking customer base. The planned opening of stores in Brussels and Wallonia thus far has not materialised.