Interview with Juan Angel Alguacil Barrenechea, Network Manager at Forum Sport


This month we interview Juan Angel Alguacil Barrenechea, Director of the Basque store network Forum Sport, who tells us about his career path and the challenges facing physical stores today.

  1. Hi Juanan! Could you tell us about your experience in the retail sector, and your role within Forum Sport?

My professional trajectory began in the Eroski Group, with functions concerning the management of points of sales. Thanks to this company, I worked for 12 years in supermarkets’ world (3 years as store manager, 3 as area manager and 6 as sales manager). In 2004, the Forum Sport Network Management was offered to me and, for a sports fan like me, it was an incredible opportunity, both at professional and personal level.

As the Network Manager at Forum Sport, my main responsibility is to be able to correctly implement the company’s commercial strategy in stores and optimize all available resources. To be more specific, I am responsible for defining and improving the management model and the sales point procedures, which include the customer relationship model. Plus, I coordinate reforms and store’s restructuring.

  1. What sets Forum Sport apart from the competition?

The strategy of recent years has based its offer on a wide range of big brand products at competitive prices. But, if the goal is to really stand out, this kind of strategy could be insufficient. For this reason, we are currently evolving towards a concept of a store that we have called “scenario”: it consists of creating spaces, physical and digital, that enhance our commercial offer, adding value to the customer and the brand, thanks to the enhancement of the services associated with sports, offering shared experiences to our customers and ensuring a powerful omnichannel offer.

This is an important change, both in appearance and in form, because it involves a physical stores and a e-commerce with a very different visual, organizational and content aesthetic, to our current model. It is already possible to take a look at our first “store of the future” in the CC Boulevard of Vitoria, transformed the past month of November with excellent results.

Furthermore, it should be emphasized that, we created and developed a Club for Members, which currently has 2,300,000 members, and allows us to interact directly with our customers, facilitating the path to a more model-oriented relationship generation of a concept of community, overcoming the more traditional or habitual concept, limited and transactional oriented.

  1. How have customer needs evolved with regards to the sports equipment sector?

Nothing different from what is happening in the rest of the retail sector…

  • The customer demands access to an infinite catalogue: the product needs to be available wherever they want, whenever they want, as they wish, at a super affordable price.
  • Nowadays, the customer positively evaluates the possibility of accessing shared experiences and, in the sport sector, this is a perfect excuse to generate these kind of spaces, which allow us to advance towards that model of personal relationships of which we spoke previously…
  • Although it may seem contradictory, the customer requires customized products and services that allow him to stand out from the others…
  • On the other hand, the very high amount of information available everywhere thanks to the internet, makes it necessary to have a specific and in-depth training of the staff to be able to “keep up” with even the most informed consumers.
  • The digitization of customers requires two-way and immediate communication, which implies an improvement in customer care services.
  1. Omnichannel is now considered one of the pillars of the customer’s buying experience. Do you think this could have an impact on physical retail?

There is a broad consensus on the idea that physical retail should evolve from the traditional concept of fundamentally product-oriented stores to stores where other types of experiences, services and activities are the focus of attention, allowing for intimate relationship with the client thanks to the emotional response.

Furthermore, it seems that in the future there may be a reduction in the number of stores to favor their relevance, format, location and offer: a concept that is very close to that of a showroom.

Undoubtedly, this is forcing us to move from a classic logistics model to another customer-oriented: immediate accessibility to any product regardless of its position on the network, with delivery at the time and in the place requested by the customer, with ever shorter deadlines, sustainable costs and transparency throughout the entire process, which in turn will involve improving the quality of real-time inventories, digitizing the supply chain, robotizing platforms…

Although it is not directly linked to omnichannel, in the future and as a result of technological advances, we will see more digitized stores, which will try to exploit the new possibilities that technology can bring by improving the operational efficiency of processes and above all the experience of these modern customers.

  1. How are you adapting your stores to omni-channel strategies?

As mentioned at the beginning, we opted for a more experiential physical store model, with an omnichannel approach to improve our image as a sports brand: you can visit this new store concept in the Vitoria shopping centre. We are looking to homogenize the relationship with the customer, customizing our commercial offer based on an advanced segmentation in which our Club of Members plays a fundamental role. We are also developing another e-commerce model, focused on internationalization.

  1. In your opinion, what are the most important KPIs in physical retail?
  • Profitability m²: fundamental in a store model where the cost per square meter is particularly relevant.
  • Conversion, attraction and value of the average ticket: very important to know the total sales, and their volume in anticipation of a decrease in the turnout.
  • Operational productivity (total sales / working hours): a complicated challenge, with an experiential model that could take a long time to produce results.
  • Customer Experience (NPS etc.): essential for corroborating that the market recognizes and evaluates our proposal.
  1. Forum Sport is now using TC Group Solutions’ technology inside their store. Did owning data like the rate of attraction or conversion make it possible to optimize store’s results?

On the one hand, they are essential data to analyze the composition and evolution of our company: they allow us to make exact diagnostics of the possible problems of the activity and, consequently, optimize the performance of the company with targeted actions.

Logically, the same corrective measures cannot be applied to every problem: it is necessary to know its nature and solve it accordingly, whether it is a drop in the turnout, in the attraction rate or in the number of tickets.

Depending on the type of location of each store in the network (tunnel, parks, historic centres …) we achieve an objective conversion rate, which allows us to design an optimal time frame for store staff, with hourly distribution based on average customer turnout at any time of day.

Based on the percentage of the attraction rate instead, we know exactly the windows that attract the attention of the customers the most, and we reproduce them with the objective to increase the entry of potential customers in the store.

Finally, all this allows us to obtain rates, percentages or performance indicators of our sales team: in some cases, we use these data to offer incentives linked to them.

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