Amer Sports : Aiming to excel in physical and digital in-store excellence

Winning in go to market is one of Amer Sports’ strategic cornerstones, and in-store excellence plays a key role in this area.

“The immediate thought is that in-store excellence is the visual impact”, says Michael White, Amer Sports Chief Sales Officer and General Manager, EMEA and Americas. “However, it is actually about the full shopper experience and therefore can include the possibility to try the product or service as well as the advice offered by staff in store. This can be a crucial part of the purchasing decision.”
In-store excellence allows the brand to demonstrate for what it stands for and communicates the benefits of the product or concept to the shopper.

Ideally, this is done in a compelling way that attracts the shopper and gives him or her the desire to buy into the brand and purchase the product(s).

In-store excellence regardless of the channel

“In today’s digital world, “in-store” excellence actually needs to extend across both the online and physical worlds”, White emphasizes.

Pascal Clausse, Vice President Retail at Amer Sports, agrees: “In-store excellence is critical to deliver the right shopping experience to our consumers, regardless of the channel.”

“First of all, consumers expect a seamless shopping experience with a transactional and emotional connection with brands. After that come consistent touch-points within all physical formats: brand stores, factory outlets, shop-in-shops and digital formats. Own e-commerce is vital to deliver one single brand promise. Moreover, the impact of visual merchandising is huge: there is a 30% sales gap between good versus bad visual merchandising execution. And last but not least, monthly stories aligned between on-line/off-line provide a good reason for consumers to visit us more often.”

Strong retail experience leaders at brand HQs and strong in-store experts in go-to-market organizations enable us to win with in-store excellence”, Clausse concludes.

Unifying physical and digital shopping experience

Megan Cheesbrough Director, Global In-Store Excellence at Arc'teryx and Oliver Majer-Trendel In-Store Marketing Manager at Salomon discuss the importance of in-store excellence and how physical and digital shopping environments can be unified.

Megan Cheesbrough defines in-store excellence as follows: “It is the physical representation of the brand – how the brand comes to life, supports our product collections, and provides an emotional connection and experience for our consumers.”

Oliver Majer-Trendel continues: “Salomon uses a formal system that takes into account visibility, equity, counseling, trial, recommendation, and action. In-store excellence is the optimally orchestrated alignment of all these components to create a customer journey that leads to a purchase.”

Loyalty through emotions

Majer-Trendel emphasizes that when well-executed, in-store excellence adds quality and value to the product and the brand.

“It helps us to differentiate ourselves from other brands, and it builds loyalty. At Salomon, we want to invite, ignite, and inspire the consumer with the rational and emotional aspects of our brand and products.”

Also Megan Cheesbrough highlights the importance of emotions.

“Without realizing it, consumers create an emotional attachment to the brand as a result of brand experience. If done well, the consumers will feel they are part of the brand. They trust the brand, and as a result will return again and again, sharing their experience of the brand with others in their life.”

At its best, brand experience in the store can be very holistic.

“The visual merchandising and product assortment, employee product knowledge and attitude, lighting, music and even engaging with the consumers on a deeper local or community level is extremely important”, explains Cheesbrough.

Presentation and information

“We want to provide a high degree self-service support by explaining next to the product its benefits for the respective practice. Visual merchandising and storytelling around the product add emotion and attractiveness”, says Majer-Trendel

“Clean, clear and authentic product presentation and communication on key marketed styles or iconic styles is also critical”, adds Cheesbrough.

“I believe in simplicity and honesty, and when the brand shows up that way in-store the consumer will appreciate that authenticity.”

Mastering the fundamentals

“Brand stores are the pinnacle expression of the brand and allow us to showcase our storytelling in our own voice without interruption or compromise”, says Cheesbrough.

The building of the brand store network has been an interesting learning case for both brands.

“With each new store, we are learning a ton about what makes a successful Arc'teryx brand experience. We have focused on mastering the fundamentals in store by engaging window programs, brand-right mannequins with authentic head-to-toe propping, elevated brand story elements as well as product communication.”

The sales people are an utmost important part of the customer experience.

“We have built strong in-store staff teams that authentically connect with the brand and local community.”

Arc'teryx flagship store to London

This year Arc'teryx is opening a flagship store in London in August.

“It is a great concept test for us. We are still quite new to our own retail at Arc'teryx”, Megan Cheesbrough points out. “I look forward to the ongoing learnings for us as a brand and ensuring we are relentlessly pursuing best-in-class brand experience for our consumers.”

Salomon will offer consumer journey programs specially designed for key initiatives and commercial activities.

“These journeys take the consumer from the window to the product via a special presentation in the store entrance or department access area. These programs for our commercial initiatives are specially designed for coop-promotions with our retail partners”, Majer-Trendel explains.

Hub for omni-channel experience

According to most experts, the future of the store lies in becoming a hub for omni-channel experience. At Amer Sports, this development is in full swing.

“It is a logical development parallel to that of today's communication technologies and the growing demand for 24/7 convenience and availability”, says Majer-Trendel. “The physical store will play an important role, especially for products that depend on experts' consulting credibility. To become the hub in an omni-channel environment, the store needs to be a source of excitement and unique experience.”

“Online and offline consumer experience are interwoven. Brands that consider both physical and digital experiences at the same time are more likely to be successful”, predicts Cheesbrough.

“The path to purchase is not as linear and clean as it once was, and the lines between offline and online shopping experiences are blurring. Some consumers research product and brands online and also buy online, some research online and buy in a store, and some research online, review in store and return online to purchase.”

“Clear, consistent messaging and brand experience across all channels is critical”, concludes Cheesbrough.

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