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A Lighthouse in The Greenhouse: Mercedez-Benz & Chalhoub Group

In partnership with Fitch – a leading brand consulting agency – Mercedez-Benz Global is building their “retail of the future” strategy – MAR2020. They are working with 15 locations around the world called ‘Lighthouses’ to meet, learn and share insights about their progress. This month, the ‘Lighthouses’ met at The Greenhouse. Cross-functional teams at Mercedez from around the world are in Dubai for a 3-day immersion and exploration of their strategy.

The day kicked off with a review of the MAR2020 strategy and their vision for success, followed by an engaging keynote session with Indranil Chakraboty, author of ‘Stories at Work’. Storytelling within a business context is integral to successful communication of projects, ideas and missions; but the key is for the story to be invisible. Humans respond and remember stories better than data points, facts and figures. Setting the scene, contextualizing the problem/solution for the protagonist, and emphasizing “aha moments” are simple, yet impactful ways of communication. In short, good storytelling inspires action.

As Chakraboty mentions, “opinions are formed by experience, and opinions are shaped by stories.” The session was interactive, thought-provoking and triggered some laughter; thanks to the speaker’s wit and a well-placed snippet of ‘Modern Family’.

As Mercedez develops their future retail strategy, understanding the customer – their intentions, behaviors and desires –  is core to providing a seamless and memorable journey. As we (The Chalhoub Group) go through our own digital and cultural transformation, The Greenhouse brought together a panel to share learnings from our own journey. Cross-industry knowledge-sharing from luxury retail and automotive, proved to be insightful for both us and the Mercedez crew.

With that, we wrapped up the day with an interactive panel discussion with Rania Masri (Chief Transformation Officer), Rema Nelson (Manager, D&G / Max Mara), Gregoire Civatte (Head of CX & Marketing, Level Shoes) and Joffrey Chartier (GM, The Beauty Makers) – moderated by Dom Bonnafoux (Strategy Director, Fitch).

Joffrey – with his passion for cars and expertise in luxury retail – kicked off the session with some brutal honesty for Mercedez. With little objection from the audience, it was clear that consumer needs are rapidly shifting, yet the retail experience within the automotive industry has hardly changed over the past 20 years. It’s time for transformation of the retail experience to catch up with innovation in engineering.

With FACES exploring new opportunities to reimagine its stores, Joffrey highlighted that the in-store customer path-to-purchase cannot be mapped out by brand teams only. Customer input is necessary, and often more impactful if you let the customer naturally decide their own journey in-store.

With their experience in creating and developing Level Shoes, Greg and Rania discussed how to use “show-rooming” as a force to enhance the retail experience. Unlocking these transformative experiences happens when you empower your teams, especially frontliners.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of team behaviors are needed to support this?

  • What environment do they need to cultivate these behaviors?

  • What type of leadership and stewardship is needed for that?

As this event clearly signifies, innovative companies look to other industries for inspiration on how to stay ahead of trends. Luxury retail often seeks inspiration from the hospitality industry on customer service excellence. With that, it is clear that we need to empower sales executives to provide an outstanding experience. Rema shared practical examples of her experience in working with startups from The Greenhouse, namely Shopi, in using tools to empower her teams to make data-driven decisions. Beyond that, the panel discussed the potential of data capture from StoreDNA – an in-store analytics solution – across Tory Burch stores. This captured data is already informing decisions on optimizing staff allocation, merchandise planning and visual merchandising.

The rate of change within our industries is only increasing. In order to keep up with these changes; an openness to build, measure and learn is fundamental. And if the store of the future is modular, we’ll have more agility to respond to ever-changing customer needs and behaviors. Power lies in partnerships and cross-industry collaboration, so we’ll leave you with this: what would “Level Automotive” look like?

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