Basic Italia, part of Basic Net, the Italian owner of K-Way, Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Jesus Jeans and Superga, among others, recently opened some new stores that run via entirely paperless and digitally managed criteria.
The first store implementing this new fast-forward thinking version of the group’s Plug & Sell formula opened in 2017, in London at 4 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. In this 140-sq.-meter high-tech and cash register–free store, customers can pay for their purchases anywhere inside the venue, in real time, without having to wait or queue. No paper is used nor are price tags added onto products, though information such as available sizes, color variants and tracking of its origins can be read through special totems inside the shop.
Alessandro Boglione, CEO of Basic Italia and a member of Basic Net’s board of directors, explains the reasons behind this new project and how it is developing.
How is the Plug & Sell project evolving?
We created our Plug & Sell format in 2000 and we started its first applications in 2001. When we opened the first K-Way Plug & Sell store of new generation in London in 2017 our technology seemed less disruptive than in the early 2000s, though we had started testing it much earlier. Now thanks to our in-store totems and screens, selling is a much cooler experience. After the opening of the London store all of our newly opened stores carry this new system, while the existing ones will be gradually renovated and empowered with the new technology. Today 35% of all of stores already operate with the new system, while the remaining 65% stores will be updated within the next four to five years.
Is this store format only available for stores that sell your brands in Italy or also in other countries?
As Basic Net operates both directly in Italy, Europe and through some licensed partners in other countries, all of our European partners have access to our products and applications, included the Plug & Sell system, meaning that thanks to this application every partner can use our software and literally plug the system in and start working.
How can consumers benefit from the system?
Consumers get total transparency. For instance, when they see a product offered at a special price they can compare its new price with the one of six months before and evaluate the advantage. They can also see what other sizes, colors or similar models are available, and if and when they might be delivered. As there are no more cash registers customers can complete their purchase by paying directly to the shop assistant who helped them in their purchase through an iPad or a cell phone in any part of the store. This way they cut waiting time and get a better shopping experience.
The store also hosts plasma, digital factotums and iPads that allow customers and staff to locate every item, view prices, obtain all the info on products in store, and receive updated information on promotions, discounts and news in real time.
Each item offered in the store doesn’t carry regular hangtags, but simply a unique number and QR code that may be scanned with a smartphone. While disclosing information on size and colors available, the code also links to basiclabels.net, through which all information on production, traceability and authenticity of K-Way products can be found.
And how can shop owners and shop personnel take advantage of that?
As the name of our system says, they literally have to plug in the system and simply take care of selling. All other operations are taken care by us. Everything is handled digitally and automatically by the system–replenishments, logistics, payments, promotion and similar operations. POS material or information on promotions is broadcasted through screens and totems the customer can read when in store. Sales personnel have to simply take care of clients, welcome them in stores and assist them when buying. When customers decide to buy they simply scan the bar code on the product through a cell phone. That’s all. When requested the purchase ticket can be sent via e-mail. Plus, they obviously decide where a purchase can be delivered or picked–either at home or directly in store.
Don’t you fear that such a high-tech format may damage the customer’s shopping experience and transform it into a cold and anonymous act?
No, as we call it “assisted selling.” Selling can become such fun as shop personnel can better dedicate themselves in serving clients, giving advice and supporting them. Moreover, by cutting waiting time for paying customers feel much more relieved.
How is shopping evolving in recent times?
I don’t see a big difference in shopping. Consumers are rather changing radically. They are much more informed and also how they inform themselves is changing enormously. Therefore they also change the way they purchase. From our side, instead, we change our way to communicate, not how we sell.
Today, consumers enter a shop with a load of different information. For this reason we are adapting ourselves to better communicate with them. Though they are always buying products they like and with an adequate price-quality ratio–two pillars that have never changed.
Whoever enters a store wants to live a better customized experience. For this you have to let them find the information they look for. This is how you can best satisfy them.
How is Basic Net performing?
We operate through 749 stores in Europe and 1,239 worldwide under the insignias Kappa, Superga and K-Way. In 2018 overall sales of the group were €875.3 million (+17% compared with 2017), while Basic Italia registered €155.6 million (14.8% more than in 2017).