In Portugal for 33 years, La Redoute is a solid brand in the fashion, home and decoration segments. A path that began with catalogue sales, later passed, in a pioneering way, exclusively to digital format and recently, going against the current, led the company to open two physical stores in the country (Oporto and Lisbon), when the pandemic forced many doors to close. In this interview, Paulo Mateus Pinto, CEO of La Redoute in Portugal, lifts the veil on the future that goes hand in hand with sustainability and social responsibility, and reveals that keeping the focus on customer satisfaction is the great secret of business success.
The pandemic has increased online shopping, but it was precisely at that time that the two physical stores were opened in Portugal. Why did you take that risk?
The opening of a shop was defined in our strategic planning for 2020. The beginning of the pandemic did not change our vision at all, because when we reach digital maturity, an omnichannel approach naturally presents itself in an evolving scenario. In our case, the foundations were laid for a strategy that has, above all else, always envisaged customer satisfaction and so the opening of a physical store is a consolidation of this priority.
We wanted to make the La Redoute shopping experience physically accessible. The opening of a physical store allows us to demystify the possible fears sometimes involved in a digital purchase, especially when it comes to higher value items, as is the case with homeware items compared to fashion. Our main goal? To provide a discovery experience where the consumer can see a range of our products, touch them, feel them... The journey and the actual purchase can be made in the shop, through our assistants, directly on the app or at home via computer.
What is your assessment of these two major investments?
We opened two stores in less than a year and at the moment we need to give ourselves time to draw the necessary conclusions, but the results of the Lisbon and Oporto stores are interesting because they show two very different purchasing behaviours with different KPIs [Key Performance Indicators]. This antagonism needs more maturity for the proper conclusions to be drawn.
"The results obtained in Portugal are positively surprising”
Can you lift the veil a little on the company’s goals for this year, namely on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, very important themes for the company?
In 2022 we will keep our focus on satisfying our customers and conquering new consumers, these are the major priorities for the year. At the same time, we embarked on a great challenge, right across the board in all the countries we operate in: to become a 100% sustainable brand. We have very precise goals and every day we take steps related to our corporate social responsibility and sustainability policy.
To clarify a little: by 2025 all our items will be 100% responsible (La Redoute Collections, La Redoute Intérieurs and AM.PM). This figure will be reached as early as 2022 in the fashion market. By 2030 we will reach our neutrality in carbon emissions, 50% reduction and 50% offset. Also by 2030 we have made a commitment to completely abolish the use of single-use plastics.
Achieving these targets implies many changes and a constant use of innovation that encompasses the entire product cycle. The quality of our customer service is also very much based on our ability to innovate and provide tools and solutions that meet our customers' needs.
Do the prices of your furniture and interior decoration products already reflect a investment in a higher segment of customers? Are you aiming at reaching the luxury market?
Our stylists and designers represent exceptional know-how that is reflected in each new collection. In the fashion segment, 70% of our turnover is based on La Redoute own-brand items, namely through La Redoute Collections. The home segment, which includes furniture and interior decoration products, is covered by our own brands – AM.PM. and La Redoute Intérieurs. These two brands, despite being both developed by our designers, display different characteristics in their essence and have different teams of creators. They share a style based on elegance, subtlety and casualness inspired by the French art de vivre, recognised around the world.
La Redoute Intérieurs is highly inspirational and has been increasingly well received by consumers because it follows decorating trends with a unique stamp of authenticity.
Exquisite and exclusive, AM.PM. has been conquering its space within a higher segment due to its luxury positioning. AM.PM. came about 30 years ago, making its mark with its surprising design, the nobility of the materials used and the irreverence of the concept that defines the brand. The results obtained in this segment in Portugal are positively surprising. Because of our history, we are and will remain a brand for families and we want to provide an offer that meets the needs of all audiences. The focus on the luxury market is not a goal, but the relevance that the home has assumed in our daily life naturally leads us to offer a wide range of options for all customer segments.
"Our forecasts for the future are ambitious”
As you have already mentioned, your product range considers the private customer in this area, but also professionals. Are there any figures that reflect these two realities?
In fact, the focus on the home sector has opened the doors to the B2B [Business-to-Business] market, which has already achieved very interesting results today. More and more professionals are coming to us and include La Redoute in their projects. We have achieved very high conversion ratios when we participate in tenders. Our forecasts for the future are ambitious.
La Redoute is a trusted brand for Portuguese consumers. For four consecutive years, the brand has led the Complaint Portal for the best Satisfaction Index in its category: Fashion, Home and Decoration Online Shop. What is the secret?
Our entire strategy is based on consumer satisfaction, the consumer is the centre of everything in our organisation. In order to achieve these goals we evaluate all our actions using the NPS [Net Promoter Score] method. This indicator is used in defining the strategy, our customers’ opinions are analysed and are the starting point in defining action plans. This approach enables us to achieve very high NPS scores. The recognition by external organisations such as the Complaint Portal confirms what we validate with our customers. Although very gratifying, this award is not seen as a surprise, but rather as a reflection of a strategy. Customer satisfaction is part of La Redoute’s DNA.