For some time now, you may have been able to observe a change in your cities and neighbourhoods. The hardware stores are no longer in the same place, the offer is different, closer. The trend is for smaller surfaces, a selection of products adapted to city dwellers, and an order taking directly in these new showrooms in the city centre.
What are these new models?
Although Leroy Merlin and other Mr. Bricolage have not disappeared from the outskirts of urban areas, they have recently adopted a new approach. Urban dwellers use the car sparingly and ultimately go less to hardware stores in the “suburbs”. With this in mind, the major DIY and decoration chains are opening new stores that are closer to places of experience or apartments than to soulless supermarkets.
The idea of these places is to create spaces that look like consumers and bring them together. Arrangements in which they find the spirit of their own interior or the one they would like to have.
There are several examples. First of all, Leroy Merlin who opened “L’Appart” a few months ago in the Clichy-Batignolles district. It is the 5th Parisian store of the brand but the first of a new kind. A small surface area, 2200 sq. m. on two floors, with a concept designed to match the habits and tastes of the inhabitants of the district. More than a store, it is a place for conferences, exchanges and meetings, a coworking area. With a cleverly designed itinerary, L’Appart proposes to go through four typical model apartments for the inhabitants of the district. This is followed by the decoration area with a wide selection of lighting fixtures, painting and wall and floor coverings. The hardware space is on the 2nd floor.*
By projecting themselves into these places that resemble them, consumers and visitors are better able to buy decorations or the convenience goods and products they need. In another example, Mr.Bricolage opened a store in downtown Orléans with an area three times smaller than its average size. In the latter, the brand focuses more on decoration than on hardware. 50% of its sales are based on this sector and the garden sector. In cities, the demand for decoration is often higher than in the outskirts. The major “DIY” brands are adapting. ***
Finally, the last example we have chosen to highlight is the GoodHome case, the new brand of the British group Kingfisher. The group owns Brico Dépôt and Castorama, which is currently experiencing difficulties in France. To get back on track, Kingfisher is launching GoodHome, a concept that offers innovative products organized by projects. Indeed, the interior is not designed as a hardware store but rather uses home staging by theme such as renovating your bathroom or improving your energy efficiency for example. The idea is to concentrate on a small area the most purchased references considered as the most “urgent”. Kiosks are available in the store to order online products that are not in the physical store. The concept is already being tested in the UK and will be set up in France near Lille in autumn 2019.****
Digital is perfectly in line with this new trend
Smaller spaces mean fewer products on display. Brands need to find solutions to show the depth of their range and customization options. This is where digital comes in. Floor standing touch terminals, virtual catalogues on shelves, dedicated corners with virtual fittings, mobile applications (such as Mon abri 3D by Leroy Merlin) with augmented reality visualization option. There is no shortage of solutions and they bring their share of novelty.
Furniture stores are beginning to follow this key trend to reinvent themselves. IKEA is a good example of a pioneer with a reinvented customer journey. The brand recently opened a store near the place de la Madeleine in Paris. The surface area is much smaller (5400 sq. m.) than that of the shops on the outskirts. The offer is also different. Design and marketing specialists have studied the homes and behaviours of Parisians to propose an adapted and refocused offer. More decoration, small furniture and the possibility to order large items with a reinforced delivery offer. A connected, urban store designed for customers without a vehicle, this intramuros location no longer requires a route but offers dedicated spaces where customers can go directly according to their needs. With 4000 products listed, only 1500 available to take away, IKEA also plays on service to seduce its catchment area. Advice, workshops, trained staff, tablets available to place orders. This new formula should be attractive and the figures tend to support it.
A few figures to conclude
According to a recent study by Samsung ,« 38% of French people believe that the presence of digital devices would encourage them to go more to the store ». The percentage rises to 57% for 18-34 year-olds and 50% for 35-41 year-olds. Even if there is still some reluctance, the benefits for the brands are already being felt. These include improving brand image (61%), “strengthening customer loyalty (54%, up to 69% for brands equipped with screens) or increasing in-store traffic (47%) “**. These are all figures that will certainly change in the coming months and years and are good reasons to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers.
** Source : https://mydigitalweek.com/37156-2/
****Source : https://www.lavoixdunord.fr/597797/article/2019-06-12/castorama-experimente-good-home-cet-automne-pres-de-lille et https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2019/06/04/bricolage-ce-que-cache-le-lancement-de-goodhome-par-kingfisher_5471373_3234.html