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Shoppable walls allowing consumers to purchase products on the go are still rare but not new. Grocery retailers Tesco and Pão de Açúcar (owned by Casino) both already offer virtual shopping shelves to consumers in South Korea and Brazil, respectively. Bags and luggage specialist retailer Kate Spade also made available a shoppable window in New York in 2013. However, Comptoir des Cotonniers, owned by Japanese apparel retailer Fast Retailing, has gone one step further, transforming various objects, such as bus stops, into sales media in an attempt to both increase its sales through m-commerce and rejuvenate its brand image and customer base as the company aims to develop its brand internationally.
Source: Comptoir des Cotonniers website
Clockwise: a) ‘This bus stop is a shop’, b) ‘This table is a shop’, c) ‘This flyer is a shop’, d) ‘This DJ is a shop’.
Last week, French apparel specialist retailer Comptoir des Cotonniers added an additional 10,000 ‘new stores’ to its existing 375 outlets. In the cities of Paris, Toulouse and Marseille, the retailer transformed street furniture such as bus stops as well as tables in coffee shops, flyers in taxis, T-shirts, street walls, magazines and many more into virtual shops.
With this advertising campaign, Fast Retailing is capitalising on the ‘wait marketing’ phenomenon, interacting with consumers when they are more receptive (i.e. while waiting for a taxi or a bus, in a coffee shop), potentially turning this interaction into a sale. According to the retailer, purchases through smartphones already account for 10% of its sales, but with m-commerce being on the rise in France, it could benefit further from the online channel. Indeed, m-commerce in France was worth US$1.6 billion in 2013, with this figure expected to more than double by 2016, to US$4.7 billion.
For two weeks, consumers can purchase any dress, top or bag advertised by Comptoir des Cotonniers on its new virtual shops using an application called PowaTag to scan the QR codes of the virtual items. As the purchasing process takes 20 seconds, while products can be delivered within 48 hours, the retailer named this new way of buying products as ‘fast shopping’. While creating a buzz with its fast shopping concept, Comptoir des Cotonniers is also allowing French consumers to buy its products in many other locations other than bricks-and-mortar stores, thus increasing sales through mobile devices and encouraging impulse purchasing.
Now is a critical time for apparel and footwear retailers. Store-based apparel specialist retailers are suffering from strong competition from the online channel, but within internet retailing the competition is also fierce, with online apparel and footwear retailers becoming increasingly innovative. This large marketing campaign is Comptoir des Cotonniers’ response to innovations within the industry, but it is also aiming to attract media attention in its efforts to be seen as a more modern retailer. Indeed, Comptoir des Cotonniers’ collections are designed to cater for a wide range of ages, but in order to continue to appeal to the younger generation, the retailer has to refresh its brand image.
Comptoir des Cotonniers also needs to polish its corporate identity as it is preparing for international expansion. Since its acquisition in 2005 by rapidly growing Fast Retailing, ranked fifth within apparel specialist retailing globally, Comptoir des Cotonniers has remained focus on the French market, with the large majority of its shops continuing to be located in France (60% of its stores). However, it is expected to increase its focus on developing its international network in the coming years, as indicated by its appointment of a new International Retail Director earlier this year.