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Rinascente Joins the Omnichannel Arena

·3 min read

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Rinascente is adding a tenth store to its retail collection. However, this time the shop opening Thursday won’t be located in a historic building in the center of an Italian town, as is Rinascente’s traditional business model. It’s going to be online.

The department store, which is owned by Thailand’s Central Group, is making its digital debut with an e-commerce site that initially will cover only Italy exclusively. At the launch, the online store will collect around 15,000 products from 650 brands operating in different segments, spanning from fashion, accessories and beauty to food and design.

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“After two-and-a-half years we are finally able to unveil our first e-commerce. We have stalled for a while, but our top priority over the past few years was to complete the renovation of our physical stores. Now that we are happy with them, we can definitely launch the e-commerce, which is meant to deeply reflect our brick-and-mortar experience,” said Rinascente chief executive officer Pierluigi Cocchini, who stressed that the introduction of the online shop is not a consequence of the coronavirus emergency.

In keeping with the omnichannel strategy developed by Central Group, which was first successfully adopted across Thailand, the Rinascente brick-and-mortar stores will work synergistically with the digital platform.

In particular, the company’s Milan flagship, located on Piazza Duomo, will serve as a logistics warehouse to ship the products, which will be picked and packed by a dedicated team.

According to Cocchini, the more traditional e-commerce will soon be expanded on the same platform with a marketplace, where the 120 luxury retail concessions of the Rinascente Milan store will be able to sell their products.

Developed by the Milan-based in-house omnichannel business unit, which counts over 50 employees, the e-commerce project required three years to complete and an investment of 20 million euros.

In order to offer an engaging experience, the online store features a gamification component, as well as customized content, including tips and curiosities. The graphics have been developed to re-create the exclusive atmosphere of the physical stores.

Designed for both desktop and mobile — the company expects that 70 percent of the views will be made via smartphone — the online store will also offer a click and collect in-store pick up, easy returns, as well as free shipping in Italy for purchases over 30 euros. In addition, customers will be assisted by an in-house customer service, and will be able to pay with both credit card and cash at the delivery.

Cocchini said Rinascente closed 2019 with revenues of 800 million euros, reporting double-digit growth compared to 2018. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, which forced the retailer to shut all of its stores for over two months, the company expects to close 2020 with sales down between 20 and 25 percent compared with last year. The online store is expected to generate revenues of between 80 million and 100 million euros in two years.