Experiences push

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LOOKING AHEAD: El Corte Ingles is seeking ways to compete against online retailers. ©Shutterstock

SPANISH department store chain El Corte Ingles has drawn up plans to put gyms, beauty centres and spas in its outlets to tackle rising competition from online retailers.

Senior company figures said they were aiming to offer more experiences to customers to differentiate the firm from sites such as Amazon.

It comes as an agreement reached in December with La Liga to feature football experience spaces in its stores has already drawn more than 87,000 extra visitors, company figures showed.

Arsenio de la Vega, Sales Director at El Corte Ingles, said the company had to give customers a reason to visit stores given that they could buy products online from home.

“In the past we relied on having products that others did not sell and giving a personalised service to clients and on attracting international brands exclusively, but this has now fallen short,” de la Vega said.

“The goal now is for customers to come to our stores to do more things than buy. Any establishment now needs to offer experiences that the internet cannot,” the director added.

De la Vega’s comments come as the first gym opened in an El Corte Ingles store in Valencia City. It is managed by fitness company New Balance.

The company already has five spas, more than 200 health and beauty centres and around 400 food and drinks venues across its branches.

“We have 94 stores that were weak at one point and they are now offering unique services. We know that offering experiences is the way to grow,” de la Vega said.

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