In 2004, in Athens, the Olympic Games were played 301 sets of awards. American corporation IBM presented world's fastest computer (36 trillion operations per second). And in Russia there were shoes of the German brand Caprice. Only in Moscow at that time there were 27 thousand retail trade enterprises. And for our country this year was a turning point in trade: after an era of general shortages, buyers for the first time began to pay attention to quality and service. That is why the first season for Caprice, with its speed and precision in delivering quality footwear, has become a success. What other successes has the company achieved? What is its strategy now based on? Why was the Russian representative office of the brand opened this year? These questions were answered by the General Director of Caprice-Vostok Victor Kunz.
- The Russian market became the main one for Caprice in 2004. How can you assess the dynamics of work over five years?
- Our company really only in 2004 made a decision that of all the Eastern European markets the main focus should be on the Russian one. Our main goal was to gain the trust of our customers, because they are the link between the manufacturer and the end consumer. It was very important for us to create the Caprice brand from the word “Caprice”, which would be associated in the minds of customers with the well-known concept of “German quality”, with the attractiveness of the model range and, of course, with ease and comfort - the differences that characterize our shoes.
- Entering the market in 2004, you stated that your main task was to achieve not fame, but trust. Do you think this task has been achieved?
- The client's trust, his confidence that his partner will not let him down either in quality or in terms of delivery, as well as the conviction of receiving a successful collection - this is the main capital that we have managed to accumulate over several years. And, of course, now our priority is to preserve the established trusting and constructive relationship.
- How has the structure of orders changed over these five years?
- The Caprice collection is unique, among other things, for its small size. Nevertheless, our clients, without exception, find the footwear their customers need and form their orders confidently today.
- Which customer acquisition channels have become especially effective for you?
- The opening of our office in Moscow allowed us to build relationships with clients more intensively and deeper. If in the beginning our communication with clients was limited to a few exhibitions, today we have the opportunity of daily direct communication.
- What is your sales geography and turnover now? What share of the total export volume of all Caprice brands goes to Russia?
- Our shoes are represented in approximately 70 countries around the world. Speaking about Russia, I can happily note that already in the first seasons of sales, the geography of orders reached the farthest borders of the country and continues to expand. Today Russia occupies over 14% of exports. I am sure that with the opening of our division in Moscow, the share of exports to Russia will noticeably increase.
- How do you assess the demand for a new men's line? Are the ordering customers the same audience that buys the women's line, or are they different?
- In the audience of customers for women's and men's shoes, the differences are insignificant. More and more customers are working with both lines. Our male line was received very positively. But in the first season, the orders were very discreet. Many openly expressed concerns about whether our male line air4men would take root and were going to wait a while. The second season allayed skeptics' fears and rewarded optimists with excellent sales.
- Almost all chains have customer loyalty programs. Do you think such a program is needed for suppliers? If so, which one?
- I do not know. Not sure. After all, the mechanisms of relations here are completely different than in retail stores. Our experience shows that it is more important for the customer to receive an excellent product within an acceptable time frame, of good quality, at a favorable price.
- What, in your opinion, may be the supplier's control over sales in a retail store? What do you find most valuable retail feedback?
- It is unlikely that a supplier, himself not participating in the retail sales process, will be able to carry out effective control over sales. Maybe I am an incorrigible optimist, but I have not yet lost faith in humanity as a whole and do not believe in the prospect of dictatorship. I believe that on the basis of trusting relationships with intensive communication, it is possible to clarify and resolve any inevitable disagreements. After all, the interest in sales in this case on both sides is mutual and, perhaps, equal. We have established, perhaps not yet at the proper level, constant information exchange with our customers. We managed to reach an agreement with the main customers to hold regular seminars to train sellers in the peculiarities of selling Caprice air4men footwear. In this direction, we intend to develop especially intensively our cooperation with retail.
- If a retail company works with European suppliers, in what currency would you recommend to conclude a supply agreement now?
- I think it is always more interesting for retail to work in national currency. Thus, the supplier frees the retail from unnecessary troubles. In this case, she does not need to engage in conversion, tracking exchange rates, she does not need to burden herself with worries about currency transfers. By assuming exchange rate risks, the supplier gives the retailer the opportunity to engage in its direct responsibilities - customer service. And, of course, with a price guarantee, retailers can confidently plan their sales seasons.
- This year you opened a showroom in Russia. How will this benefit existing and potential Caprice customers?
- Today we are already able to quickly and accurately deliver our shoes to our warehouse in Moscow. The period of working out the issues of logistics and customs procedures took us a lot of time, but now an optimal system has been built.
The customer can receive at our office any information that interests him.
In online mode, we can give complete information about the stage of manufacturing an order.
In our showroom, the client can, at a convenient time for him, make a selection from the current collection and get acquainted with the models of the next season. Our employees are always ready to help form an order, tell about our innovative walking on air developments and present the store design program used, in particular, in the "Center for German Shoes" project in Kirov. We are always glad to see guests with us.
- By the way, is this the first such large center¸ in which Caprice is so widely represented in Russia, or not?
- Of course, there are retail chains in Russia, where Caprice and air4men shoes are presented in a larger volume. The project in Kirov was the first for us in Russia precisely from the point of view of the design of retail space in our corporate design. We have recently developed our concept for the design of retail space CPC (Caprice Prasentation Concept), so in Kirov we had to improvise sometimes. But it turned out, in my opinion, just great. Direct confirmation can be numerous requests from our customers and queues at the store, which I have not seen since Soviet times. This is undoubtedly the merit of the owners of the German Shoe Center. They professionally used all available PR tools, perfectly embodied the idea of the CPC: many visitors first looked with interest at the interior, beautifully and thoughtfully designed - with competently displayed samples, convenient places for trying on shoes and islands for rest. In fact, everything turns out to be simple: the buyer gets pleasure not only from the purchased shoes, but also from the place and the process of purchase.
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