7 minutes with Pedro Martinez

I feel very inspired (and happy!) when I see the positive evolution of a business model. Even more if I know the person making this change happen. Pedro Martinez is the GM of Marbella’s El Corte Inglés. We worked together at Inditex one hundred years ago but, every time we meet, it’s like it was yesterday that we travelled to London or Stockholm to explain the new bonus scheme to our Inditex Store Managers.

Pedro has a 12-year career at El Corte Inglés, where he has worked in different roles up until achieving his current position. Together with his extraordinary team, he leads the transformation of the Marina Banús business unit towards a new retail concept, where experience and emotion are at its core. This is a brave, disruptive approach from the company which brings very positive results.

1. From your perspective as a retailer, what are the main ingredients of new retail?

We are facing a big shift in our industry. There is a new guest star who is disrupting the retail landscape: Internet and IoT, the Internet of Things. We now have omnichannel retail and, at the same time, retail is more about experience than ever. Mixing offline and online stores is something really exciting. We also must think about a very important ingredient: speed. Customers are very demanding, and they want their products here and now, which means that we need to optimise our procedures.

2. It’s a fact: footfall in offline is not what it used to be 5 years ago … What is the actual meaning of offline stores for customers?

The brick-and-mortar store is the bridge between dreams and the real world. It is the chance to realise those dreams, since in the offline store you can touch, feel, smell, experience,… Both channels are totally complementary. In fact, only companies who manage to achieve the right balance between online and offline will stay in the market.

It’s a fact, though, that customers do not need to visit a store to shop. That’s why offline stores have to bring that extra mile of quality and warmth in terms of experience that is not possible to find online.

3. How do we shift from a product-based shopping model to an experience-based one?

It’s the same when launching a new edition in different formats of an old, good book. The previous model was already based on experience, but in a different, less in-depth way. Nowadays, we talk about pure players as if they were the only future for retail, but brick-and-mortar stores will keep on existing, since the dimension they bring is a must. However, it’s true that only the best stores, the ones who perfectly integrate the new model, will survive. In experiential retail, our customers’ decision making process is much quicker, as quick as the information they receive. This fact brings us closer to the perfect models where information is complete. We have to be very aware of our customers’ demands and react very quickly.

4. What has been the process you have followed to develop the new concept of El Corte Inglés at Banús?

Our customers’ satisfaction was the main driver. We were noticing that our customers demanded many things we didn’t have in store and, on the other hand, we used to have plenty of duplicated product categories. Luxury brands represented a new world of possibilities, but in the older format of our department store it was impossible to offer the product range the customers were demanding. Our company was evolving and so were our premises, so we decided to take advantage of it to create a new shopping universe where our customers could find products and services more easily. We’ve designed a Corte Inglés store open to everybody, where the rich assortment of brands, products and services matches with our customers’ expectations and needs.

5. How do online and offline interact at your store?

In the same way they do at El Corte Inglés. We are in the middle of the integration process of both online and offline worlds. We have a huge Click&Collect department where all our customers can pick up, return or check every single online order. The whole online range is available in store, for our customers to check.
On the other hand, we also offer a 2-hour delivery service from our store to all the post codes in our area. We will include new benefits in this very soon. Both universes are 100% integrated: offline product managers are in charge of the online orders too. We have a winner strategy where our heritage, range, price and locations get boosted by online.

6. What’s the role of the team in this transformation? Which profile best fits experience-based retail?

Team is crucial. Every single organisation has to understand the new dimension of retail. From offline, we could be misled to think that online is a threat, but this is not true. It is a big opportunity, two communicating vessels who feed each other. However, online will get proportionally bigger in the next years and we need to be ready for this.

Regarding profiles, retail will always need service-oriented professionals. In our new retail landscape we will add digital skills. But this is not an issue, since 80% of the population is already digital.

Many thanks for sharing with us your vision about retail, Pedro!

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