Concept stores and the shift to digitalisation: the new retail concept of Histoire d’Or

eric-belmonteHow is France’s top jeweller adapting to the new challenges in retailing? With store refits and a shift into digitalisation, Eric Belmonte, Chairman of THOM Europe (which also includes the TrésOr and Marc Orian chains) is preparing for the future. 

Town centre developments and concept stores

As France’s leading generalist jeweller for over ten years, Histoire d’Or has historically been located in shopping centres on the outskirts of large towns and cities. “We still generate 95% of our turnover there.” However, over 40% of the chain’s expansion today is in town centres. “The jewellery market is in the process of restructuring. With 300-400 independent jewellers closing each year, there is a vacancy to fill in town centres, particularly in the provinces,” says Eric Belmonte, citing Tarbes, Roanne and Epernay, where Histoire d’Or has recently opened stores. In order to attract this new client base, which is a smaller, but a more captive audience, whilst bringing momentum back to the hypermarket sector, the jeweller has decided to invest in developing its store concept. The dark red colour code, which has been the brand’s identity for the last 15 years, segmentation of window displays and restructuring of POS advertising are the hallmarks of this strategy. “We want our customers to enjoy a real in-store experience, developing freely in line with their preferences, as in every other type of retail concept.”

Renewal of the product range: “the consumer wants change”

What can be found in these new Histoire d’Or stores? “There too things are changing,” the Chairman confides in us. Whereas previously 20% of the collection was renewed every year, the renewal rate for product ranges is now over 50%. “The consumer tires quickly, zapping from one thing to the next, looking for change, something new, and that is what we provide.” Personalisation is one of the key trends adopted by Histoire d’Or. “Consumers now want to customise items. We have included this development and now offer personalisation options, for example, for rings.” The direct consequence of this, is that Histoire d’Or, which used to work with a small number of suppliers has opened offices in the four corners of the world, to be as close as possible to their sourcing partners. “We are now present in four sites across the world, in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, and Arezzo in Italy, which identify the latest trends needed to satisfy our consumers. It goes without saying that distributing our products has become more complex, but digitalisation allows us to manage our flows better.”

The inevitable shift to digitalisation

It is impossible to talk of Histoire d’Or’s retail strategy without mentioning its shift to digitalisation. For Eric Belmonte this is the mainstay of the company’s strategy, on which all efforts are focused. “We opened our e-commerce site two years ago. Today it accounts for 2% of our turnover, but is growing at over 50% every year,” he continues. The main area for growth is click and collect, which 30% of customers use to pick up their purchases in store. Eric emphasises that two-thirds of these customers were not existing Histoire d’Or customers. “E-commerce provides exceptional leverage, bringing us new consumers,” he says enthusiastically. As well as the build-up of the sales site providing a new growth driver, digitization also simplifies the client experience and management of the teams in-store, with, for example, paperless certificates of authenticity and loyalty cards. “It’s easier and quicker for everyone.” To support the growth of e-commerce, the chain has focused efforts on delivery, implementing “express delivery in under three hours,” a recently launched service in Paris.

In order to make a fresh start in digitalisation, which was not one of the core competences of Histoire d’Or, the company has put together a team of experts. “Today there are around a dozen people working on our digital strategy, focusing on adapting our site for mobile devices, as this represents 40% of our traffic.” Data management is also a priority, with increasingly detailed analysis of the product selection and re-ordering behaviour of the chain’s more than four million customers. “Working on digitalisation makes one realise that jewellery is not so different to other sectors, be it in terms of the cross-channel sales strategy, renewal of the product range or sublimation of the client experience. What I have learnt from our retail transformation is that everything is changing very quickly and the most important thing is to remain humble, taking nothing for granted and always focusing full attention on our clients.”

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