Nowadays connected objects are part of the in-store ‘customer journey’, helping to provide support to the customer in a new, more personalised way.

Interview, on the sidelines of the Connected Conference which took place on June 18-19 in Paris, with Katia Hersard, Chief E-commerce and Marketing Officer at international entertainment retail chain FNAC. A member of the FNAC Executive Committee, she has for the last four years been responsible for developing the brand online and for multi-channel marketing.

How can connected objects potentially change what happens in FNAC stores?

Well, we’re very aware of this. We were the first to develop connected spaces throughout our 85 stores. The Internet of Things is an area of innovation that really appeals to us. Things are developing fast and we want to be part of the movement. Of course we do make some of our sales on our website, but that doesn’t replace the physical store.

What’s your audience for connected objects?

There are various target audiences – the early adopters, the geeks, but also older people. The older age group we target is a very valuable driver of growth, especially given the ageing population and the fact that these people are very keen on connected objects.

How can connected objects be used in-store? Are customers ready for that?

We’re currently thinking about how connected objects could be used in-store to make people’s lives easier. Firstly to demonstrate products. People are gradually starting to use connected objects to manage their data, help monitor their homes remotely, and improve their health. That being so there are some very interesting areas to pursue. The uses I’ve just described open up a wide field, in which we’d certainly like to grow.

Could we for example envisage a customer journey in-store where s/he uses a connected device and never talks to a single sales assistant?

Look, our customers come to our stores expecting to obtain advice from a salesperson. That’s part of our DNA. It’s real value. The human aspect is very important. I don’t think we should see connected objects in opposition to the human side – quite the reverse in fact. Connected objects are becoming part of our day-to-day lives, they help us, add something extra, but they do a different, complementary job. The expertise of the FNAC sales teams and advisors is more important than ever in this new technology segment because we need to really make everyone comfortable with these devices, to explain, to reassure, to help the customer to compare a number of different devices.

So how can connected objects help the sales assistants?

They can help them to provide more information or demonstrate products. But they can also help to personalise the journey of discovery and especially provide fun support for children. Basically, connected objects enable us to bring creativity to the customer journey.

And on the promotional side?

We’re currently looking very closely at beacon technology, in terms of our CRM and real-time marketing efforts. Using beacons helps us to offer  the customer a highly personalised, multi-channel journey. This is the number one thrust of our strategy.

How big is ‘click & collect’, for instance?

At Christmas it accounted for 30% of our sales, which is a sizeable amount. But I should point out that this figure is only the tip of the iceberg, since multi-channel goes far beyond this service with, for example, Research Online and Purchase Online, which are also posting very strong growth.

What do in-store connected objects enable you to measure?

They enable us to measure the flow of goods from the different sales areas at the store, which in turn helps us to arrange things better so we can improve the customer journey. We pay a lot of attention to the data we gather, and we take full notice of what it tells us.