By Mario Toneguzzi
Reitmans, a Canadian women’s apparel and accessories brand that was founded in 1926, has unveiled a new concept store at its Carrefour Laval location in Montreal which is a pilot project for other stores across the country. Included are shop-in-stores for the Hyba Activewear that formerly operated stand-alone stores.
The retailer says the new concept store is aimed at offering customers an “exceptional and memorable” shopping experience and it includes the “La Conciergerie” service which is a one-stop shop aimed at improving the customer journey by offering a personalized service.
This includes a more personalized, omni-channel in-store experience with a goal to combine the convenience and fast access of e-commerce and the authentic, in-person service of a boutique store.
Jackie Tardif, President of Reitmans which has 260 stores across Canada, told Retail Insider the concept will be rolled out to six to eight more stores this year and then evaluated to see what happens next.
“The new concept is really an integral part of the transformation. We started transforming Reitmans two years already by changing the brand perception and elevating the product. The store itself needed to be more exciting, more noticeable and needed to also fill the gap caused by omni-channel expectations. This concept aims to create a seamless experience from the omni-channel benefit to the in-store experience,” said Tardif.
“And bring the personalized shopping experience to life in our stores. Obviously with 260 stores you understand that the real estate is very important to the Reitmans brand. So we re-invented the stores and the brick and mortar experience.”
Brick and mortar stores represent an important part of Reitmans’ business and the retailer is striving to meet customers’ changing needs.
“To create a seamless shopping experience, stores need to become more experimental, more educational where customer can touch, try and interact with sales associates. This is the best way to express the brand,” added Tardif.
She said the storefront at Carrefour Laval was renovated to create a new and exciting look - an inviting look designed to create a ‘wow’ effect. It’s also a way to entice new customers to come in.
The aesthetic transformation included a sleek black and white theme, accented by wood and neutral touches, giving the space a clean, modern feel. Special attention paid to décor and furnishings aim to offer customers an overall pleasing and comfortable store visit. A new digital screen behind the cash counter plays the current season’s product videos, contextualizing the current and upcoming pieces.
With the “La Conciergerie” service, customers can have access to all of Reitmans’ inventory, both in-store and online, including online exclusives, allowing them the possibility to have their desired pieces shipped to their home address at no additional cost, enabling a seamless path to purchase.
At the “La Conciergerie”, customers can also easily pick up or return their online purchases, and sign up for personalized styling sessions. These sessions are free to customers and range from 30 to 90 minutes. A fashion associate guides customers through the session of their choice.
“With e-commerce taking up more and more space in the retail world, we wanted to make certain that our store experience is complementary with this new reality. When customers come in store within this new concept, they have the same access that they would have online. But more than that, they have the in person, one-on-one experience that one cannot find online,” says Tardif.
Since the Montreal opening, the retailer has opened a similar store concept in London, Ontario and plans to renovate six to eight more stores by the end of the year.
Then the brand will evaluate the concept and how it has responded to the market. Has it changed the perception of Reitmans? Does it drive traffic to the store? What is the conversion rate to sales?
“If it continues the way we think it will then that’s very encouraging to have a bigger rollout,” said Tardif.
She said the “La Conciergerie” service will be rolled out sooner to more stores and perhaps half the chain by next year.
Earlier this year, the Hyba Activewear line was moved from stand-alone stores into Reitmans stores and continues to have an online presence.
The brand moved back into Reitmans exclusively earlier this year in 241 stores with a dedicated space for the brand in the form of a shop-in-shop Hyba boutique.
Last year the company closed 17 brick and mortar stores of Hyba as it transitioned the brand to a presence in the Reitmans stores.
“It’s one of our fastest growth categories. It’s a very strong brand. We believe in this brand,” added Tardif.
Retail Insider will continue to monitor Reitmans’ retail transformation as it rolls-out its new store concept nationally.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.