Boutiques are opened, inaugurated, look identical… or not. Is there a recipe for commercial success? If so, everyone is still looking for it, but they’re all still using the same ingredients. Topreplica grills replica watchmaking industry leaders.
A boutique is a set of ingredients, the most important being colors, materials, atmosphere, layout, location, staff and products. The problem is that, like any (successful) recipe, each brand uses different proportions.
The illusion of a magic potion
Rationalists will therefore attempt to categorize the recipes by family: single-brand or multi-brand retailers, flagships, wholly owned boutiques, shops-in-shops. Alas, all that has to be revised depending on whether you are referring to entry-level or high-end (volume or value), and with different weightings depending on the country! In short, the recipe for the perfect boutique is as elusive as a castle ghost: everybody talks about it, but nobody has ever actually seen it.
Paradoxically, the only point of convergence is that sales are very rarely indexed on the appearance of a boutique. “Quite honestly, I had a huge retail space on Rue de la Paix refurbished, the work took a year, and I’m not sure it’ll ever pay for itself!” confesses a leading Rolex replica watchmaking/jewelry boss. If that’s the case, why commit to such excessive expense? “Sometimes you feel like profitability is a secondary issue,” ventures Laurent Picciotto of Chronopassion. “It’s as if it were a race for hegemony and a shining presence.”
The two key points of an effective boutique
Despite this, most CEOs agree on two essential points: the location and the boutique manager. “And above and beyond the location, the entrance is vital,” states a senior officer of the Swatch Group. “One day, we shifted the door of one of our boutiques by one meter, from one side of the street corner to the other. We lost 30% of our revenue. We no longer captured the East-West flow from the station.”
The boutique manager is the other key element. Each brand recognizes their central role in its own way. They are the architects of the brand’s success: “They must know the concierges of all the hotels, be friends with key company directors, know the limo drivers, be in cahoots with tourist guides,” asserts the director of a large group. In his own way, Laurent Picciotto confirms the importance of his own role: “At an independent retailer, customers often come to see the manager.”
Taking the first step… through the door
But all the analyses are based on in-store customers. Alas, often the first step of making a sale is bringing the customers in. “In 20 years, we have seen a ‘bunkerization’ of luxury boutiques,” says Xavier Dietlin, the man behind many of their displays. “The direct relationship with the fake Omega watches customer has been broken, as opposed to Apple, for example. Anyone with fifteen minutes to spare and an Apple Store ahead will go in, for no reason and with nothing particular in mind. Just because it feels good; you’re free to browse and play with everything until you decide to stop playing and call on a sales advisor.”
The “open bar” atmosphere would thus appear to be the most promising. In-store events are evolving in the same way: exhibitions, meetings, openings and dinners are all commonly accepted as good ways to bring a boutique to life. However, they have some limitations: “By all means, sit a customer on a sofa and hand him a glass of Petrus,” says Laurent Picciotto with a smile, “but in the end, the sale will always take place in the same setting—three chairs around a table.” Pragmatic but realistic.
To cope with sluggish market conditions, the brands are trying to vary the proportions in their recipes. Digitizing boutiques? An idea that seems to have run its course. Plasma screens and iPads are scarce and have even been ejected from the most recent renovations. Why? Customers have them at home and consult the interactive content there.
The “lounge” aspect, however, is on the rise. In the latest Richard Mille boutique, there isn’t a single Cartier replica watches sale in the basement, but there are big sofas and a wine and cigar cellar. At Piaget, the second floor of the Geneva shop is dedicated to collector’s pieces. In both cases, the idea is the same: to prolong the famous “customer experience.” Or even spread it over several floors?
This is the current trend, especially in London. Whereas the malls in Dubai sometimes offer more than 500 square meters on a single level in a display of their power, London prefers several levels to create multiple universes. In Paris, Bucherer is trying to combine both ideas: three floors, 2,200 square meters and more than 25 brands. Impressive, even though rumors from the City of Light imply that sales haven’t (yet) taken off.
Maybe we should head back over the English Channel to identify tomorrow’s ingredients for success. Holition, for example, offers customers the opportunity to test products via augmented reality window displays. Breitling replica,Tissot,TAG Heuer and Vuitton have already been won over. The investment is minimal: a CPU, a 3D software program, a webcam and paper bracelets. The recipes for success are often the simplest but the most creative.