Taking advantage of our trip to Shanghai to visit Phoceis Asia, we made a stopover in Beijing.
We wanted to discover the city, and the various gigantic malls that populates Chinese cities.
Exactly like I used to see in Shanghai in the last few years, those malls are mostly empty, with sales people just stamping their feet, and looking desperately for a customer to help.
When it comes to digital, you find in almost every mall some touch screens to help you locate the stores in the gallery and other classic features you may expect on such kiosks.
Clear, efficient but nothing really exciting.
In fact, we visited two different concept stores in Sanlitun, known to showcase some new and innovative digital plans : Adidas and Mont-Blanc.
Adidas Sanlitun store is presented as the digital flagship of the brand in Asia. All the digital stuffs (3 different experiences) are located at the ground level.
Apart from the running track that is similar to the one present in the Nike Flatiron store of New York, two structures made out of a mat and a screen invites you to test the difference between the Eva and the Boost sole technology. Information regarding the technology you are trying are displayed on the screen in front of you.
Next to this, a touch screen allows the customer to go through the shoes collections and discover the benefits of these products.
Both machine finally deliver poor customer experience. Especially the touch screen which does not allow any kind of interaction with the product, nor with the store (stocks or product location). Very disappointing.
We follow our journey and a few hundred meters further we enter the Mont-Blanc flagship. As usual, the store is empty : what is true for traditional store is even more true for high-end shops. An army of Chinese seller are ready to jump on you as soon as you walk-in !
What we discovered at Mont-Blanc is much more interesting than what we saw at Adidas. It answers a simple question : how can you create engagement with your brand and its history, when this history has its birthplace 10,000 km away from your customers ? Digital and its immersive capacity seems the perfect tool for this storytelling.
At Mont-Blanc, thanks to the tablet on which you choose the collection of watch, you control the two very high-def digital screens that are surrounding a model of the very first factory in which the brand was founded.
One you choose a product, screens plays a variety of beautiful videos featuring the factories themselves and the people who are making the product. It’s all about the brand and the people behind the product. A beautiful and elegant music is played during your experience.
We were really seduced by this mach-up of digital and brick-and-mortar. For a brand which aims at explaining his history, his origin, to people located at the other end of the planet, the result is quite convincing.
The only drawback might be the room it takes in the store. But I guess we might hear shortly about a brand who will replace this kind of screens by a couple of VR glasses, to teleport customers right in the middle of the brand’s cradle. Think about a virtual fly over famous Champagne vineyard. About living a fashion show from the inside. Your customer could live the ultimate immersive experience, and dive into your brand world.
Julien Saumande, Phoceis Founder // @JulienSaumande