France-based books and electronics store Fnac took the No. 1 rank in L2’s 2016 Retail Europe study. Fnac’s success is surprising especially given the struggles of its peers in the US. Circuit City, for example, went bankrupt in 2008. Best Buy was declared “dead” and the best “showroom” for Amazon its competitors before making a successful comeback. A few things that separate Fnac from struggling and antiquated Big Box brands:
The Apple Retail Model: Similar to the Apple retail model, Fnac stores are located in prime locations in the center of European cities – and sacrifice size to do so. This boutique model leads to impulse buys, brand affinity, and discovery.
Informed online browsers and shoppers: After extensive complaints about “showrooming”, retailers have accepted that consumers will compare price and quality even after seeing a product in store on a retailer’s website. Savvy retailers don’t try to curb these attempts, but rather facilitate the consumer’s information gathering process to nudge towards a sale (e.g. user reviews, videos, tutorial, user-generated content). Fnac has taken user reviews a step further and created well-designed pages comparing the best and worst user reviews alongside expert opinions.
Mobile ads and investment: Fnac places more importance on mobile than desktop; it is the most widespread mobile ad publisher in the Index.
Well-done in-house products: Fnac’s Kobo e-book reader is one of the top five best apps in the Index based on performance, competing with the Kindle app in France.
Search optimization: Fnac is the top fifth site in search visibility for electronics terms.