Interview with Benoit Lavaud, Group Digital Director, Bluebell Group
What are the most exciting opportunities in retail right now?
Retail is being completely reshaped and will be even more fragmented in the future. For now we are in the process of digesting and implementing new retail channels in our companies. Pricing structures need to be re-think, distribution partnerships need to be re-thing. Traditionally businesses have been expanded with the concept of countries, but digital is now breaking this law. It becomes a mix of both where distribution could be from any countries, thanks to cross border ecommerce, while “proximity” marketing remains local. It changes everything when you take this back to structures, habits, marketing and companies organizations…
So the opportunities lies in the way brands embrace fully all channels capabilities in their strategy. Chat Commerce, Mobile Commerce, Online Marketplaces, Webstore, Retail, Popup Stores, and soon VR commerce, these are the new “countries”. Brands don’t need to be everywhere, but surely cannot remain on offline retail and webstore only… Distribution channels become the new countries, a war game where brands need to define where should it should be conquered first and which one second…
What are the top 3 things that a company must do to prosper?
Path to success, in my opinion relies on the same rules as always. This is one of the things that doesn’t change in this world….still. It is PEOPLE, without the right team, you can have the brighter idea or the best products, it won’t sell, then PRODUCT, the core of the business, if you don’t sell anything it means you don’t offer what people want, so to have the right product, with the right quality at the right price is the basic, and the third component of success will be the VISION, we do not produce a one-time product, but should have a roadmap that will keep the companies and people behind the same ambitions and the same objectives. Look at all companies who died or lost their supremacy because they have stick to just few key products but forgot the long term vision and evolution.
What transformations have you seen in your business that have had the most impact in the last three years?
Definitively the smartphones. The iPhone is just 10 years old this year. It is nothing. But in a so short time, it has changed everything. At the beginning for the Elites, the smartphones are now less expensive and are penetrating less rich population which is also a game changer. Smartphones suddenly have broken the need to seat in a precise location to buy something, either to be in a store, either in front of your desk computer. But now, shops have no walls. You buy anytime, anywhere, for any population. This is changing everything…
Who or which company has been your biggest inspiration?
Overall, i would say start-ups and tech companies are my biggest inspirations because they are breaking the way people work together. In their structure, their way of recruiting, their way of operating, the way they put their vision in actions, the way they build and reshape the future. It is fascinating to see how the gap is growing between “traditional” companies who are trying to change and the “new companies” who are thinking differently from day one. But i feel that a bit too often, the traditional ones thinks they have to look like the young ones to be appealing again but i think they are wrong. They should find their own way to grow and evolve, not copycat the start-ups but finding their own style, otherwise it would be like a elephant who is putting fur ears to look like a rabbit. It won’t work and look even ridiculous… :-) I feel we are still in this era where traditional companies are seeking for their own evolution path but they haven’t found it yet. So some of them will die, some of them will find how to evolve, same for new companies, some of them will die and some of them will become more mature and structured. It is very interesting for us in 2017 to be witness of such deep changes in our business environment.