The Conran Shop is a market leader in its field of luxury design and interiors and they also happen to be one of our most credible and influential clients.
Beginning their journey in London in 1974, Conran has earned a trusted reputation for exquisitely handpicked collections, ranging from vintage to modern, stylish and innovative.
We’ve been lucky enough to catch their Head of Global Marketing & Ecommerce Paul Brookes for a chat, where he explains more about his role, his love for the industry and how digital plays an important part in tackling the current challenges within the world of retail.
Tell us about your role at The Conran Shop and what it entails?
As Head of Ecommerce and Marketing, my day is very varied. The ecommerce, but more importantly the digital communications, channels used to get to customers (new and existing) are overtaking all other forms of marketing and communications. They are becoming increasingly important in crafting and distributing the brand message. Couple this with a heritage brand, synonymous with design and innovation, and you have a powerful message tool.
What is the most best/ most exciting part of your role?
The variety. My role also encompasses a general support function including franchise, contracts and negotiations and strategy, to name a few.
How important do you think it is to stand out within the interiors and design industry and how would you say Conran does this?
The brand and its heritage are extremely important, as well as having a legendary founder and wealth of creative talent already in the business. The brand stands out, but needs constant commitment, nurturing and re-invigoration to make sure that heritage and pedigree isn’t lost in the sea of imposters out there. Consumers who want (and expect) experience as well as great product, know where to go.
What challenges do you think retailers face in the current economic climate, and where do you think the industry is going?
Challenges for Conran aren’t any different to any other retailer. The biggest challenge all retailers face is the internationalisation of shopping. You can buy almost anything from anywhere. Price comparison is a click away and the things that make you stand out are all too often the only thing that counts. Economic factors affect the interiors and design industry too, but perhaps not so violently as the fashion or beauty industries.
Do you think there will be a larger shift towards digital, and how important is digital ecommerce to Conran?
Digital retail and communications will become the largest part of The Conran Shop business in the future. However, the flagship stores are exactly that and form the crucial foundation for our brand and the creation of the experience around our content. Content being amazing, unique and often exclusive products.
Is it important for you to consider the integration of both online and offline, providing perhaps a more multi-channel experience to your customers? And why?
Consumers, especially those loyal to a brand or lifestyle, want consistency and to shop how they want, when they want. If you order a beautiful Eames lounge chair from a store, why shouldn’t you be able to track the progress of your order from the craftsmen in the factory, right through the shipping and delivery process? Then they want to pop on the website at 11 pm to look for the throw and cushions they forgot, or changed their mind about when they got home. Or as simple as trying out the chair, bed or sofa in the store and deciding on everything in the comfort of their home. That’s how consumers think, live, work and play now.
We’re in a connected world, which is getting more connected as the days go by. The digital world will always find ways to excite and engage, but our stores will remain fundamental to developing that unique and special experience of sitting in that Eames lounger for the first time, touching the array of leathers and woods from which to choose your finish, then finally seeing it in your home. So in essence both will remain important, but convenience, access and distance will be overcome by digital channels.
Are there any other websites out there that you think are aspirational or any brands that you really think have ‘hit the nail on the head’ in terms of digital execution?
There are lots of websites that continually surprise, delight and sometimes, in equal measures, cause dismay. Websites are an unlimited shop window into a brand, that can convey an experience beyond what has ever been possible before. Selling without feeling, preaching and unobtainable ‘style’ puts a lot of people off. Editing, curating and presenting with humility and authenticity is crucial to any interiors or furniture brand. That’s the future. No one needs an Eames lounger (although there are plenty of people that would disagree with me), but a great many people WANT one. That’s the difference that counts.
And finally, without giving away too much detail, what’s next for Conran?
We’re always looking for new ways to engage with our consumer. That’s as much as I am willing to give away!
Explore what the world of Conran has to offer here.