Didier De Jaeger is CEO of Altavia Europe. Didier started his professional career as copywriter and strategic planner in various international advertising companies such as McCann-Erickson, Young & Rubicam and J. Walter Thompson. He also was Managing Partner of the market research company Censydiam Europe, Managing Partner of the advertising and digital communication agency Kadratura, President of the communication agency Troy, born from the merger of Kadratura and Troie, and Executive Partner of Emakina Group. He also was a lecturer at Louvain School of Management from 1995 to 2009.
In recent months, which retail innovation has inspired you the most?
There are so many promising innovations, but I prefer those that encourage shared purchasing, which shows that business is adapting to contemporary values and lifestyles. Ford, is a good example, it offers shared leasing for group-owned cars and an app to manage usage of a shared car. I’m delighted that manufacturers and retailers are taking into account the emergence of collective consumption and the evolving concept of private ownership. It is highly significant that these developments are based on the car, the most emblematic product of the traditional consumption lifestyle and of the expression of social status through objects. Ford provides group-leases for cars.
Which of the main trends in retail are you most excited by?
Architectural innovation, like the Dongfeng City shopping centre in Zhengzhou. After years of “functional boxes”, we’re seeing more and more shopping centres becoming iconic buildings for their cities, through their creativity and occasionally through clever conversion of old buildings.
At the same time, shops are becoming sites for multiple activities, not solely focused on purchasing. Shops where you can spend time, drink a coffee, discover more through digital media or from engaged staff. Even, watching programmes or films. Shops which express passion for an activity as well, like Rapha, a cycle shop in San Francisco, where you can bring your bike into the store with you, and which plays cycling races on big screens. I saw a replay of a legendary race in Belgium there, with the original Dutch commentary that very few could understand in the US, but which reinforced the feeling that “’we’re connected to the places where things are really happening”. A simple way to feel; like you’re in a temple of cycling.
Where is your favourite shopping location?
Deus Ex machina, “The Emporium of Postmodern Activities”, which I discovered in Los Angeles but can be now found in several other cities, including Milan. From vintage motorbikes to a restaurant, surfboards, books, clothing, records… A seemingly completely disparate selection, which is in fact totally coherent with the “visitor’s” way of life. And above all, in a place where it all seems arranged for enjoyment rather than sales.
Do you have a retail app on your Smartphone?
Take Eat Easy: you order dishes from the restaurant of your choice, and they’re delivered by bike in thirty minutes. An ingenious system to select restaurants. The order management and geolocalisation of the delivery drivers provide a very fluid transaction for everyone involved; the customer, restaurant owner and, delivery driver. But when it comes to mobile applications for making purchases quickly and easily, I regularly use the ones for organising travels (airlines, hotels). The best are ahead of the game.
What are the future customer satisfaction challenges for the world of retail?
After-sales service. A system that doesn’t require customers to bring multiple copies of the invoice, and allows them to wait in a comfortable place where they are entertained, before talking to a representative who truly understands customer service and how to greet customers. Rather than an administrator sat behind a counter. I was particularly impressed by my recent experiences of the after-sales service in Apple Stores.
What’s your greatest retail memory?
A butcher’s in Apulia, which became a grill restaurant every evening in summer by putting tables in the small streets around the shop. Every day, they managed to create a feeling of improvisation, passion, and spontaneity, which created the impression of a one-of-a-kind experience.
Source : Altavia Watch