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Case Study: Fnac Darty: plotting the in-store fightback

The French electronics and appliances retailer Fnac Darty, engaged in a battle to fend off ecommerce giants such as Amazon, is continuing to open new stores, with an eye on an enhanced in-store customer experience as well as an improved omnichannel strategy.

In late November 2018, it opened the doors of its 381st Darty store at Perols near Montpellier, and it now has more than 750 stores across its whole estate – Fnac and Darty being the two key brands – including franchisees.

The emphasis in-store now is on offering personalised support to customers pondering Fnac Darty’s products and services, with more products than ever on display for customer handling and use, plus a bigger emphasis on store layout so that related accessories and consumables sit alongside the big-ticket items they support.

Among Fnac Darty in-store product promotions are Google Home products, after the retailer partnered with Google to roll out demonstration areas. The retailer is also speeding up the integration of its ecommerce platform with Google’s voice assistant.

This functionality enables Fnac Darty shoppers to place voice orders for items from the music, book, video and toy sections through Google Assistant, then pick them up in-store the next day.

The French retailer is also diversifying into new product categories, such as games and toys, plus homeware products and even kitchens.

How well are its merchandising and wider tactics holding up? In the most recent financial half year, its ecommerce activities were marked by solid performance internationally, with double-digit sales growth in all countries. In France, performance was weaker, with less momentum in IT and photography (drones and cameras being key items), which pulled down overall online sales.

As it stands, ecommerce now represents 18% of group sales, compared to 17% last year. Omnichannel accounted for 47% of online orders, up two percentage points on the first half of 2017.

Fnac and Darty merged in 2016, partly in an effort to create sufficient scale to compete online. Both companies have their roots in traditional high-street retailing and that’s still reflected in the growing stores numbers today.

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