AFFLELOU has its sights set on data

Didier-PascualNow more than ever, skillful use of data is central to the AFFLELOU Group’s digital strategy. As the celebrated eyewear brand switches to Salesforce, its challenge is to include its franchisees in its internal revolution. Didier Pascual, AFFLELOU’s Chairman & CEO, helps us understand what it’s all about.

Digital will be the biggest investment in 2019

The Group has a clear objective for 2019: be at the leading edge of data management so as to retain existing customers and attract new ones, both in eyewear and hearing products. To do this, AFFLELOU has decided to invest heavily. “We will devote more capex to digital in 2019 than to anything else,” says Didier. These investments will be an extension of the significant increase in the Group’s communication and digital budgets these last few years, and will focus especially on social networks, mobile applications, etc. “Now we are taking on CRM,” he declares.

Implementing Salesforce and effecting the change

To replace its old, obsolete CRM tool, AFFLELOU turned to the market leader, Salesforce. “This is not the easiest time for the Group, because changing CRM requires lots of adaptation and training, from head office right down to the store cash desks.” Given the scale of the task, the Group named a Chief Digital Officer responsible for coordinating the digital transformation. This onerous period will soon end, however. Testing in the company-owned stores is now complete, and trials at 20 or so franchisees, who volunteered to take part in the programme, are also coming to a close. “Between now and the end of March, we will be ready to roll out the solution in all of our franchise stores,” Didier is pleased to say.

Reassuring, involving and engaging franchisees

Implementing a new CRM tool is a delicate operation in any company and even more so in one that is franchise-based. AFFLELOU had to completely rethink digital’s role in the company. “Until now, we had a silo approach to digital, sector by sector,” says Didier. “We are now deploying an omnichannel digital strategy involving all our franchisees and including all of our business activities.” Stores that have an audio corner are an example. “They outperform, and this shows the synergy between optics and acoustics. One of our goals in 2019 is to cross-analyse data obtained from the two activities in a given store.”

The data stay at home

To get franchisees to buy into the new CRM project, the Group first had to reassure them about data security and was adamant about a key issue: ownership of the data obtained. “We have made a clear decision for everyone. The data belong to our franchisees. They have exclusive ownership.” The data are used in the head office but for the franchisees and for them only. This commitment goes for online sales too: “Our sales on afflelou.com are linked to a franchisee and to a store; the same is true for the data we obtain.”

Staying out in front

The next step for AFFLELOU is to engage more franchisees in harvesting data and ensure that they give this activity the importance it deserves. “Every franchisee must be convinced that the data are of good quality. The franchisee must have at least a last name, first name, an email address and a telephone number for every customer.” Every purchase, whether one-off or recurrent, must be accompanied by a fact sheet. If the CEO’s fervour is anything to go by, the momentum is building, and the stores are developing good habits. “A few years ago, our franchisees were sceptical about data ownership. Now that they have received training and overcome their initial reticence, they are enthusiastic and are even asking for more!”

Data are now essential. In a few years’ time, data may even become an important criteria in valuing a company’s intangible assets. Didier Pascual knows this and is already thinking about the next step. “Even if much remains to be done, we will continue to innovate to stay ahead of our competitors and at the forefront of the digital transformation of our sector.”

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Apax Talks is a digital magazine aimed at company managers. It presents growth levers for SMEs, with a focus on TMT, consumer, healthcare and services sectors.