Consumer preferences are changing at warp speed. But there’s a lot of reasons to be excited about meeting the challenges of our customers’ attitudes, aspirations, lifestyles and expectations, says Rachel Duffy-Packer, General Manager – Beauty – for David Jones. According to a recent report from WSL Strategic Retail, a futurist consultancy and analyst, the department store model is still very desirable. Close to 50 per cent of shoppers prefer to “get a lot done under one roof” and David Jones is updating and re-imagining its approach to beauty as consumers have more choices than ever.

Rachel Duffy-Packer has spent much of her career working in department stores in the UK and Australia. “A department store has the opportunity to be everything to everybody. A place of magic and delight where you can sell a story. Before taking on my current position, I was the General Manager – Concessions at David Jones for five years across fashion and accessories. Prior to coming to Australia, I worked at Selfridges in London for eight years as the Buying Manager for Luxury Accessories and Fine Jewellery”.

Selfridges is world-renowned for being a retail innovator and attracting top talent. “There was a truly collaborative culture and we were all there to achieve the very best, which was a very powerful driving force. Ultimately, the company was then a bricks-and-mortar store with an online business where theatre, innovation and the customer’s in-store experience were at the core of all decision-making. I was attracted to David Jones, which is also an iconic retailer with a long history of bringing the best of the world to its customers, for the same reasons”.

Australia’s Premium Lifestyle Destination/Full 360 Approach

David Jones is vigorously pursuing a strategy to drive an exclusive and differentiated department store experience in key areas such as fashion and beauty. Luxury international beauty brands such as Burberry Beauty, Make Up For Ever and the imminent arrival of Christian Louboutin Beauty have boosted an already extensive beauty offering.

David Jones is the oldest department store in the world trading under its original name and celebrated its 180th anniversary in 2018, says Duffy-Packer. “We maintain our pre-eminence by having a clear brand vision and purpose to be Australia’s premium lifestyle destination. At David Jones, we are dedicated to quality and are consumer obsessed. Our purpose is to curate an exclusive and differentiated brand and product assortment relevant to our customer’s lifestyle and underpinned by excellent service. There has been talk about the department store being dead. Its role has changed but our goal is to define the role of the department store of the future”.

Online is now intrinsically linked with a customer desiring a fully integrated experience, says Duffy-Packer. “But shopping should be fun and leave people happy. Experience in bricks-and-mortar is still paramount to driving customer engagement, including the introduction of more playful discovery areas with a constant focus on newness, in addition to our existing luxury portfolio. The lines between the digital space and the shop floor are becoming more blurred each day, with functions such as click and collect and seek and secure available to customers. The aim is to ensure a fully 360-degree approach where the customer receives a superior level of service at all touchpoints”.

Growth-Driving Skincare, Fragrance and Sephora Partnership

Skincare offers David Jones incredible opportunities to grow the category further, says Duffy-Packer. “Globally, skincare is a very strong sector because having great skin is the latest status symbol. David Jones has over-indexed, particularly in luxury skincare. We have seen exceptional growth in a number of exclusive brands such as La Prairie and Sisley, whose sales have doubled in the past three years”.

High end fragrance is also in strong growth mode, she adds. “Niche and luxury fragrances have become a key focus area for David Jones to differentiate our offer from widely available mainstream perfume brands. Recently, we launched the luxury fragrance house, By Kilian, as an exclusive and there are more exciting introductions on the horizon, especially following the launch of the renovated Elizabeth Street flagship store”.

In November, David Jones launched an exciting partnership with global beauty specialist, Sephora, in our flagship Bourke Street store in Melbourne, says Duffy-Packer. “Sephora is a destination for beauty-conscious shoppers and its exclusive partnerships with the latest international and indie beauty brands complements our existing beauty assortment. The partnership allows us to introduce brands such as Fenty Beauty, IT Cosmetics, Fresh and Marc Jacobs Beauty into our business. These brands resonate really well with the young fashion beauty shopper, in addition to Sephora’s best-selling private label range”.

It’s been really exciting to see the Sephora customer coming through our doors, as they are younger than our core David Jones customer, she notes. “But it has also had a halo effect on the sales of the colour cosmetics brands in our beauty hall. Our challenge is to get these new customers to cross-shop into our other categories and make sure we have the product offering they are looking for. For Sephora, the partnership means an increase in their reach and presence, while gaining access to the loyal David Jones customer base and the high traffic of the Bourke Street flagship store. We hope this will be the first of a number of Sephora outlets, focused primarily on our flagship locations”.

New Formats/Clear POD in Beauty

But David Jones has a key point-of-difference from speciality beauty retailers, says Duffy-Packer. “We have the space and ability to tell the full story of a brand. We also have the opportunity to cross-merchandise and curate spaces dedicated to major trends such as wellness. Younger customers tell us that they prefer a more brand agnostic service model. Therefore, we are looking to trial different formats in some of our smaller doors. The first brand agnostic beauty hall, serviced by David Jones beauty experts, will launch in Carindale in Brisbane in November this year. This flexible format will allow us to play with more brands and trial newness because we will not be locked into the counter model. An approach that will allows beauty advisors to be trained across multiple brands to cross-sell the right products to suit the individual needs of customers”.

The traditional department store counter model is still relevant to our larger stores, says Duffy-Packer. “At David Jones we are obsessed with beauty and our BAs are the most important part of the wheel. They have face-to-face contact and create direct relationships with customers. Knowledge is paramount because if you can’t serve the customer; you will lose them. For this reason, training is key – whether in traditional brand-centric roles or the new brand agnostic formats”.

World Class Shopping Destination/Always On Trend

The transformation of David Jones Sydney flagship store in Elizabeth Street has attracted blanket publicity in the media. “We are investing $200 million to create the store of the future. The process is well underway with levels 7 and 9, shoes and toys respectively, already opened with sensational results. Beauty and accessories will occupy two floors, with luxury on the ground level and contemporary on level one. We are super-excited to showcase both new and exclusive brands and the services they offer, together with the new brand expressions of our key established partners. A lot of hard work has gone into revitalising this iconic store and we hope to exceed the customer’s expectations by creating a world class, landmark shopping destination that proves the department store is well and truly alive”.

The retail landscape is changing but the basic principles of retail 101 is still the same as it was 180 years ago, says Duffy-Packer – great product, fantastic service and ensuring the customer leaves with a smile on their face. “From our customer feedback groups, we know that Australians still have a great deal of trust in David Jones. We constantly look to the great capitals of the world anchored by the iconic department stores. One of the first things I did when I started my new role as General Manager – Beauty was to visit the most storied department stores in London, Paris and New York in order to track global trends. My next trip will be to Asia to discover the latest innovations there”.

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