Photo from Le Parisien

Last year, our CEO, Fabrice, made the leap across the pond to open an office in New York. Everyone knows the Big Apple is one of the shopping capitals of the world - but how does it compare to London? We sat down with Fabrice to hear about his experiences with US retail since becoming a New Yorker. 

1. What have you learned about retail since taking YOOBIC to NYC?

Retail is ultimately all about people. And because of that, stores need to make their staff a top priority again. Store staff are brand ambassadors, to such an extent that some flagship stores have removed sales incentives because the job should be more about providing a positive customer experience than about short-term sells. The theory is that if the experience is amazing, people will ultimately buy from you, whether it be in-store or online. Experience builds loyalty.

Essentially, stores are becoming showrooms and experiential destinations, with sales almost becoming a secondary aim. This is a new way of approaching store operations in the era of online shopping. Some brands, such as Coach, have even started to produce new store concepts with the primary goal of being a place for visitors to hang out, take selfies and experience the brand in a new way. This might be a little too radical for me personally, but it’s certainly an interesting approach!

2. How does being in a city where so many retailers trial their newest and most innovative concepts impact your thoughts on where YOOBIC is going?

From Nike’s impressive new concept store, to Chanel’s brand-new Atelier Beauté (the first of its kind), it is amazing to see so much innovation concentrated in one city. You can feel the vibe and the energy of the city in those initiatives, not only in terms of cutting-edge technology (like Nike) but also when it comes to innovative visual merchandising.

But the key question is, how do you scale that up to 200 stores across the country and still maintain the same level of excellence?

Once again, it is all about people and processes - and this is where YOOBIC can play a role. We are working with brands such as Lacoste to ensure that the merchandiser’s vision is properly implemented and that the quality of customer experience is perfect across the board.

3. What’s different about retail in NYC vs London?

Wholesale and outlets play a significant role in the US retail economy, more so than in the UK it seems.

Being able to guarantee consistency in those channels is a real challenge. Brands have very little visibility into, or control over, what’s happening in-store. On top of that, store visits are quite expensive, and they’re also not very efficient. Wholesalers have also decreased their staff in-store, significantly reducing the level of execution and ultimately impacting the global customer experience.

4. In your experience, what’s the biggest challenge the physical store will face in 2019 (in New York/the US)?

I truly believe that the biggest challenge right now is around empowering the sales staff.

To do this, retailers need to change their mentality towards their employees. Store staff are not a resource, they are an asset. The more you invest in them, the better your stores will perform - employees who feel valued do better.

Technology is the key to making this a priority for retailers. Currently, the situation is usually that sales associates are trained when they first start work, and then it’s never thought about again. What’s needed instead is a system of continuous, digitised microlearning, to help store teams grow and keep them engaged.

5. What’s the best thing about living in NYC? (That isn’t retail or work-related)

The energy of the city!

6. And what’s the worst thing about living in NYC?

...The energy of the city 😉

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