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Exclusive: Former El Corte Ingles head looks at retail redefinition

Dimas Gimeno
Dimas Gimeno

Retailers need to evaluate the need for industry transformation in areas including the store and training.

In an interview with Chain Store Age at the recent NRF 2020 Vision conference, Dimas Gimeno, chairman of startup incubator Skintelligence Investments S.L. and former CEO of Spanish retail giant El Corte Ingles, shared thoughts on important industry issues.

“You need to turn your store into a warehouse,” said Gimeno. “It’s a place you buy physically, and also now a place you buy digitally through services like click and collect or fulfill digital orders through ship from store.”

Due to the need for large retailers to support omnichannel activities at the store level with permanent inventory, Gimeno said it is actually easier for small retailers to seamlessly blend physical and digital retailing. He recommended large retailers collaboratively work on a solution for real-time inventory tracking, similar to the successful industry effort to create the standard UPC barcode. 

“It’s the best differentiator you can get,” said Gimeno. “Amazon doesn’t have the ability to deliver a product in 30 minutes or less. Their warehouses are in the outskirts. A store located in a city center can perform a delivery in less than 30 minutes. If you know exactly what inventory is in your store, Amazon can’t match you.”

In addition, Gimeno advised brick-and-mortar retailers to converge digital and physical in a way that creates relevant engagement.

“Brick-and-mortar customers don’t want to identify themselves unless the retailer gives something in return,” he stated. “Providing free WiFi isn’t enough. Self-checkout will change everything. Customers automatically identify themselves and it reduces store operations costs by 20%.”

Gimeno also stressed that retailers need to take a collaborative approach to employee training and education.

“The lack of a view from practitioners who understand the needs of retailers is a problem,” he said. “Retailers need to redefine training. There is a need to rewrite job descriptions – not by the business schools but by the retail companies themselves.”

To assist retailers, especially larger retailers, around the globe adapt to the technology-driven changes happening in the industry, Gimeno helped found Skintelligence. The company’s mission is to found a platform connecting Tier I and larger Tier II retailers with small but innovative startups they might otherwise overlook.

“It takes a lot to win and do it right,” said Gimeno. “We are in the middle to help retailers do it right.”

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