Drives, deliveries, clicks, and pickups… Between March 2020 and May 2021, distributors urgently had to adapt to weather shutdowns and accommodate the flow of online orders. These innovations are now sustainable and improved.
In the face of store closures and an influx of online orders during lockdowns, distributors have had to be flexible to meet the new needs of their customers. Quickly tested and implemented solutions made their way into the omnichannel strategies of these brands. Like the drives, created by non-food brands during the first booking in March 2020, which are now part of the touchpoint landscape between distributors and their customers. Romain Rollo, Director of Digital Strategy at Kingfisher explains, “We were the first to set up drive-ins in the parking lots for our Castorama and Brico Dépôt store with a first hand-made, contactless and fully differentiated model, the parent company of the DIY brands.” We transformed ourselves with research. for smart, simple and effective solutions,” he continues. Brands Castorama and Brico Dépôt were then able to manufacture their own drive solutions based on lessons learned during these store closures.
Accommodate delivery request
The biggest challenge has been in the DIY sector which is still lagging behind on the subject of digital transformation and while sales have been increasing (+13% in 2020 according to FMB and Inoha). Romain Roulleau explains: “We had to turn the point of sale into a storage and delivery area, the online assortment has been increased and we have accelerated home delivery. Today we have moved to industrial mode. Between 2020 and 2021, our delivery network became competitive and we were able to measure its profitability.
Same story in Decathlon: “We had to adapt by doubling delivery forms in a few weeks. This was made possible thanks to our use of the cloud, which allowed us to make our inventory available in-store via drives, while it was closed in Germany, Holland and France,” explains Jerome Dubroy, Senior Decathlon Digital Officers. Delivery times have been improved and thanks to its standardized inventory, the brand is able to offer home delivery, drive-through, and click-and-collect. At Decathlon, the 100% cloud strategy, adopted in 2018, has proven to be the right strategy to demonstrate agility during this period. With every government announcement, the sporting goods distributor and designer recorded 6-7 times higher sales volumes on its platform. “We did not see a decrease in turnover in 2020,” the CDO welcomes.
also in food
While there have already been many delivery offers from food distributors, the latter have boosted their offerings. Like the Casino Group, which now operates all of its casino stores and has multiplying partnerships with delivery startups Uber Eats (April 2020), Deliveroo (April 2020) and Just Eat (April 2022). These delivery methods are growing strongly according to the group: + 48% of sales on home delivery in 2021 (drive not included).
Another product innovation this time around. During the 2020 restrictions, brands are turning to more local supplies to make up for potential shortfalls, such as Monoprix, which has developed its own Locavore offering, now available in 100% of its stores. Between October 2020 and June 2021, the distributor tested a device to indicate the mileage of the store from the place of production. It has since been launched nationally.
Decathlon corners in Franprix
To make up for a short supply of sporting goods in major city centers and when travel was limited, in April 2020, Decathlon and Franprix joined forces to offer sporting-goods corners in convenience stores. It first ran in 20 stores in Ile-de-France, and is now spread across 65 stores in France. At the same time, about a hundred Decathlon products are available on Franprix’s online sales sites. Decathlon has made this solution permanent, thus allowing these brands to buy the stock they sell to their customers. The sports equipment manufacturer also operates designated spaces in certain stores, as is the case with the Decathlon corner at the Auchan supermarket in Bordeaux.
Full of innovative services
In May and June 2020, Castorama developed remote planning offers for selling kitchens. The brand offers appointments with culinary specialists in the evening in a three-dimensional joint design. The customer can finalize the purchase directly and schedule the installation via NeedHelp, a startup acquired by Kingfisher in November 2020.
Castorama also launched new features on its mobile app in November 2020 with a barcode scanning that reveals a complete product sheet accompanied by tutorials. “The French were excited about ‘DIY’ at the time, so we had to adapt to their demand for knowledge and support,” says Romain Rollo, director of digital strategy at Kingfisher. The app continues to perfect and will soon be incorporating a voice assistant to access these tutorials without using your hands.
The brand also created a visual search engine in the summer of 2020. “Conversion rates are three times higher than text search rates,” says Romain Rollo. He explained that the constraints resulting from store restrictions and closures have finally turned into “economic and business opportunities that enhance the classic retail model.” In just a few months, we’ve seen an acceleration equivalent to three years of development, and the tools put in place have become permanent,” he explains.