Landmark Group’s multi-brand destination, Centrepoint – comprising Babyshop, Lifestyle, Splash and Shoe Mart – has started unveiling its ‘stores of the future’. It has rolled out two new stores in Oman, one each in Abu Dhabi, Ajman and Sharjah, at the newly opened Oasis Mall, and one in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. A brand-new Centrepoint store will open in City Centre Deira. The Mall of the Emirates store is getting renovated. The one in Ibn Battuta Mall, to be unveiled in August, will be a significant step of change. The existing store network is also getting modernised.
Commenting on Centrepoint’s ‘store of the future’ concept, COO Simon Smith, said, “We always think about how to get the consumer to shop across Centrepoint and not specifically in a single brand. For this, we had to plan the transition areas to be more impactful in terms of merchandise presentation. We have had to plan a walkway that is open and clear with the use of more digital elements. After all, the retail environment is moving forward rapidly. The use of digital and omnichannel approach to retailing has opened multiple channels for consumers.”
Centrepoint’s store of the future will, thus, feature several innovation pieces. “We are putting in place backroom innovation for our footwear brand, Shoe Mart. When a customer orders from the shop floor, a member of staff will see it at the back-end and bring the product to the customer. In effect, we are ensuring that our shop floor executives can continue the conversation with the customer without any interruption. We are building our business by leveraging technology to drive convenience and enhance customer service,” Smith shared.
Centrepoint will also use RFID in its high street fashion brand Splash. “When a customer is walking in a store, whether it is in the front or back of the house, they will know where they can locate the product, ensuring complete transparency. Later on, we will introduce the RFID technology in our children’s brand, Babyshop,” Smith added.
Currently, Centrepoint is building an app for the store staff to bring in the endless aisle solution, allowing customers to access a wider selection. The app will be launched later this year. “Everything we are doing is to simplify and drive convenience for the customers, even while they are in the store,” Smith reinforced. “Centrepoint. com is a crucial element to what we are doing. We are endeavouring to bridge the online service element, by bringing it in the store. Think about it; we already have 30% click-and-collect business, which comes from online and brings customers inside the store.”
“Queuing time is one of the biggest pain points in Centrepoint,” he elaborated. “We are looking at ways to drive efficiency through our checkouts, our new layout and software. We are introducing a lot of mobile points of sale so that customers can check out without having to queue at the main cash tills. We will also service the fitting rooms differently.”
Centrepoint touches 170 million customers every year and is eager to grow across channels – online and offline. “We see significant growth online. We will double our online business next year. But we are not accepting de-growth at the store level either,” Smith stated. “That’s happening because we can pinpoint and meet the exact needs of customers by leveraging data. Our marketing teams are always looking at the Shukran – loyalty programme – database to generate repeat footfall by offering the right rewards. Besides, we are also communicating to the broader customer base through the digital channel, informing them about the goings-on in the stores.”
At the moment, Centrepoint is opening stores that are a transition between the old and new formats. “We have opened a new store at Oasis Mall in Sharjah, which is the first Centrepoint in that emirate. Our customers have not failed to notice a significant change in the store environment. New fixtures and directional signage render the ambience clearer. The use of visual props is a significant step forward. The lighting is different, eco-conscious and smart. The planning of transition zones between the brands is in a manner that is distinctive yet cohesive. A lot of work is going into making the customer journey cohesive and convenient. And it is an on-going, evolving process.”
In a space like Centrepoint, which is usually a large store layout built in a manner to increase customer dwell time, an F&B area – a café or a grab-n-go counter – may not be a bad idea in its store of the future blueprint.
“It is happening,” Smith confirmed. “We are currently working on a plan to include a small Lavazza coffee area within Centrepoint in Ibn Battuta Mall. Our objective is to ensure that this small Lavazza coffee service area becomes the best value for money proposition for our customers in the entire shopping mall.”