This is how Zeeman revamps its store concept


Dutch textile discounter Zeeman is testing a fresh store concept at four locations, which will better fit the current brand positioning. The first pilot store opened Wednesday morning in Ermelo, three other branches in the Netherlands and Belgium will follow quickly.


Bright and well-organised

"The Zeeman brand has undergone quite a transformation recently, and we want to reflect that better with our stores", CEO Erik-Jan Mares and Marketing Director Caroline van Turennout said during a tour of the pilot store. "Our existing customers should still feel at home here, but we also want to serve our new customers better." However, we are told not to call this an 'upgrade': the retailer is sticking to its low-price positioning. "I would call it a fresh discounter", Mares explains.


The bright yet warm lighting and white furniture immediately make the store look spacious and convenient. Pops of yellow set the tone: the red colour will disappear from all store communication - except for clearance sales and special offers, but those are rare at Zeeman, as the chain sticks to a strategy of low prices every day.


Varied displaying options

The permanent collection (accounting for a fifth of the assortment in the number of references, but for twice as much in turnover) is given a place alongside the store's perimeter. Zeeman is swapping the familiar yellow panels hanging from the ceiling for sleek black-and-white illustrations that indicate the various departments to make navigating the store easier. Customers can now easily find the basics, baby and children's clothing, legwear, underwear and household textiles. "You can see what you need from the store's entrance."


Shoppers will find a varied assortment at the entrance and centrally on the shop floor. Zeeman chose furniture that allows for more variation in the presentation, with hanging racks, shelves and gondola heads in addition to the regular trays. As a result, customers have the impression that the store has become more spacious and that the range has expanded, which is not the case. "Customers can now discover products that they would have had overlooked previously", Mares believes. It is also an improvement for the employees: the new furniture is more ergonomic and allows for more creativity when displaying.


Sustainable shopping

The checkout area has been modified: it is wheelchair-friendly and more service-oriented. A striking yellow cupboard behind the tills is designed for preparing packages that come in through the webshop. By mid-2022, Zeeman hopes to be ready for a roll-out of click-and-collect.


Sustainability is a striking point of attention. For example, Zeeman reduces the use of plastic in the stores and uses cardboard instead. Customers can also find sustainable messages on garments: sustainable cotton is given a more prominent place in the assortment. "We were recently elected 'Sustainable Retailer of the Year' by ABN Amro, and we are very proud of that", Mares says.


Evaluating thoroughly

Zeeman will initially launch this concept 3.0 in four stores: after today's opening in Ermelo, Helmond will follow on 16 November; Antwerp and Aalst both open on 24 November. If the feedback from customers and staff on the new concept is positive, the following openings, relocations and renovations will also be carried out using the new store concept. "We will take three to four months to evaluate this properly. We have not set a turnover target: above all, we want to consider what our customers and employees think."


Zeeman builds and renovates around a hundred stores annually in Europe. Of the chain's roughly 1,300 stores, 754 currently follow the 2.0 store concept with its distinct yellow panels, blue lettering and a light grey floor. There are also 524 stores featuring older designs featuring blue panels.