JDN. Over the 2012 financial year, the activity of your integrated stores fell by 4% and that of your members increased by only 0.7%. What are your current priorities and how does the Internet fit in?
Jean-François Boucher, CEO of the Mr.Bricolage group © S. de P. Mr.Bricolage
Jean-François Boucher . The first axis is that of proximity. Through our three banners (Mr Bricolage, Briconautes, L’Entrepôt du Bricolage), our store formats from 1,000 to 10,000 square metres, our presence in rural areas as well as in city centres, we continue to get closer to our customers. The second axis lies in the animation of our network. This involves extending our product ranges, increasing our brand awareness, improving our logistics tools and developing our private labels. The third axis is web-to-store, which accompanies the evolution of consumer behaviour.
Why did you buy back the pure player Le Jardin de Catherine, in July 2012?
The aim was not to acquire a company operating one or two e-commerce sites, but, more broadly, to support the approach of Mr.Bricolage’s customers. Le Jardin de Catherine had the know-how of online sales and logistics specific to e-commerce. The founders, Catherine and Eric Poncin, are still with the company. They enabled us to implement the e-commerce strategy of Mr.Bricolage, which led 4 months after the acquisition to the launch of our first e-commerce site, Mr.Bricolage.fr, in December.
You have since begun to deploy a galaxy of merchant sites, each corresponding to a store…
We want to deploy as many sites as stores. Out of our target of 275 sites in 2013, we are already at 264. But for the Internet user it is transparent: he sees only one site. When he goes to Mr-Bricolage.fr, he is asked for his postcode and is offered the nearest shops. If he agrees to be geolocated in this way, when he searches for a product, the results related to the closest stores will appear at the top of the results and those of the national merchant site will appear afterwards. This makes it easier for him to pick up in-store within 2 hours, while still giving him access to the full range of products on offer. It is an extra service for him, but it is of course also in our interest to send it to the store.
How do you organize the reservation of items in the store, having only the inventory from the previous evening?
In fact, we scan the stores’ information systems every night to bring up their stock levels. When a customer chooses the 2-hour pickup, the store is immediately informed. Someone on site ensures that the item is available and in both cases the buyer receives notification. If the product is no longer in stock, we will cancel the transaction.
What proportion of your online shoppers are delivered to the point of sale?
53% of the orders placed on Mr-Bricolage.fr are delivered at home and 47% are picked up in store: 14% are picked up within 2 hours and 33% later. These figures do not include Catherine’s Garden, but both sites also use Mr.Bricolage stores as collection points. In addition, these figures do not take into account another use of online stock checking at the point of sale: Internet users who see that the product is in stock in their store and go there to make their purchase.
How is the sale made online but withdrawn in store affected?
It is the one carrying the stock that takes the turnover. If the article is taken from the stock of the national merchant site and delivered to the point of sale, then the relay store takes a commission based on the weight of the package. But this commission remains epsilonics, the real gain for the store lies in the traffic it gets from these sales. It is then up to him to promote his promotions, provide advice, show off his new façade, etc.
Have you trained your stores to handle click-and-collect?
Yes, both on the technical aspects of receiving these parcels and handing them over to customers, and to accompany the evolution of the behaviour to adopt with them. Because the Internet is changing the way of doing business, including physical distribution! This change support module was first deployed to members, then to the managers of the integrated stores, and finally to the teams.
How much revenue do you generate on the Internet?
In 2012, it is therefore only the sales of Le-jardin-de-catherine.com and La-maison-de-catherine.com, which amounted to 25 million euros In 2013, we expect similar sales, as the priority so far has been given to the integration of information systems, logistics and teams, not to mention the very unfavourable weather conditions in the sector. We will be looking for growth for these sites starting next year.
As far as Mr Bricolage is concerned, we expect good growth prospects but we are also suffering from the bad weather in the second quarter. Our objective is for Mr-Bricolage.fr’s turnover to reach this year that of an average store and to exceed 50 million euros in 3 years, which would correspond to two very large stores.
As for web-to-store multi-channel sales, we are waiting to see how customer behaviour evolves so that we can set precise objectives. But we’re already seeing a great increase in power.
Are your points of sale confronted with showrooming and are you interested in the possibilities offered by mobile, in-store or not?
We’re being vigilant but the teams say they’re not very confronted with this behaviour yet. As for our use of the mobile channel, the subject is very much on our minds. It’s still in the planning stage, but we already know that even if we open up mobile sales, our presence on this channel will focus on increasing in-store sales.
Do you have other e-commerce or multi-channel projects?
We launched 4 themed sites in May on gardening, decoration, DIY and finally savings and ecology. The idea is to bring information to the customers, to work on our referencing and to bring traffic to the merchant site.
More generally, I feel that we are ahead of the game in our approach to trade. We allow our customers to buy online, to be delivered at home, in parcel relay or in store, they have the possibility to prepare on the Web the purchase they will make at the point of sale… And in a short time they will be able to be advised in store by salesmen equipped with shelves, which will give them access to the entire catalogue of the national merchant site. We have started testing, deployment is planned for 2014. With the mobile, the multi-channel experience will then be complete. Hence our current priority: to roll out our network of stores and convince them that the future is multi-channel.
Jean-François Boucher is CEO of the Mr.Bricolage group. As a child, he learns the trade of merchant in his parents’ drugstore. They are members of the ANPF group, a cooperative of DIY store operators which created Mr Bricolage in 1980. The Boucher’s stores are now under the Mr.Bricolage banner. In 1989, at the age of 19, Jean-François Boucher joined them in the company and also created a Feu Vert car centre. In 1997, he was elected representative of the members of the northern region on the ANPF Board of Directors. His company Boucher Invest then bought several stores and, in 2000, refocused on DIY and sold Feu Vert. In 2007, he became CEO of the Mr Bricolage group and Managing Director of the ANPF, while continuing to chair Boucher Invest.