Why are customers immediately addressed as they enter one of Coolblue’s stores, and what is the deal with that mirror hanging near the headphones? The answer: this Dutch retailer is improving its physical store concept using customer journey data.
Efficient customer journey
On the occasion of the opening of Coolblue’s eighth store, in Bruges, RetailDetail met up with Arne Van Verdegem, manager of growth at Coolblue Belgium, to discuss how the e-tailer’s physical store concept is evolving. The Bruges store is 1,000 sqm in size: an average size for the retailer, who says that “We need that space to tell our story. We display about a thousand products in our stores.”
The new stores (Coolblue also recently opened an equally sized store in Mechelen) are designed according to Coolblue’s new and improved store concept, which responds to the customer journey. In fact, Coolblue optimises the range and shop layout based on data on buying behaviour.
“How does the consumer buy a smartphone, or a washing machine? The category teams provide input, which we translate into an efficient customer journey. Often the customer journey starts online, and continues offline. We study this journey for each product, as they tend to differ. If your washing machine breaks down, you want a new one right away, while you will take a bit longer to think about which new laptop to buy. For us, the focus is on the customer journey, not on the shops.”
Service and advice
Customers visit physical shops because they want certainty and advice, Van Verdegem knows. “If you want to buy a television, you want to see first; if you want new headphones, you want to check how they sound.” Customers also come to shops to collect products ordered online, for post-purchase advice or to return products.
Coolblue is not a self-service store where you just walk in and out: the entire sales process is guided. It starts at the entrance, with a member of staff greeting each customer and asking them what they came here for? They are then assigned a specialist: on screens in each “product world” you can see whose turn it is. There are six such product worlds in a Coolblue store: Televisions, Telephony, Audio, Household, Gaming and IT. The specialist then helps the customers next to the products, not from behind a computer at the counter.
Each world has its own logical routing, starting at the ‘advice wall’ before moving to the next step in the process. “Actually, it works just like the filters you apply in the webshop. The central question is ‘What do you want to use the product for’? A TV to watch sports or series on is not the same as a gaming monitor.” As in the webshop, you will also find “Coolblue’s choice” and the “Green choice”.
With specific product set-ups (such as a furnished laundry room or a fully equipped home office), Coolblue aims to inspire customers. In doing so, the retailer also often presents a total picture: the laptop also includes a mouse, sleeve, and Microsoft Office package – this way, the retailer wants to avoid customers having to reorder an accessory afterwards because they did not think of it in-store. There are several clever details, such as a mirror near the headphones: you might not immediately expect it there, but people do not only want to hear those headphones, they also want to see how they look with them, it turns out. Coolblue knows its customers…