The department store in question is called Daslu. It is a 180,000 square foot store housed in a beautiful and private Florentine villa in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Eliana Tranchesi, Daslu's owner, had the vision to develop Daslu into a luxury department store where customers would feel as if they were in a private residence visiting good friends. She envisioned them having coffee, lounging, chatting, and in the process shopping.
To develop her concept she subdivided the spacious villa in various inter-connecting private salons. She also closed off the women's department to men and did not provide any dressing rooms. This was consistent with her concept and she perfectly applied it into her store design. After all her vision was to have a homey, albeit luxurious, space where friends were visiting friends. So there was not a need for changing rooms. And given that customers were her guests, she would try to greet and chat with each one of them.
The men's department was designed with the same concept in mind. The various salons housed a Johnnie Walker whiskey bar, a bookstore with sofas, a La Perla boutique so the men could shop for their wives, and countless other products ranging from Maserati and Ferretti yachts dealerships to wine and tobacco areas. Men mostly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
She developed the concept even further, making sure that each of her guests would have an exceptional customer service. Daslu employed over 300 people just between salesgirls, called Dasluzettes, and wait staff, called "maids". The Dasluzettes were themselves Daslu customers and came from the best families in Sao Paolo. Tranchesi wanted to make sure that her salesgirls would understand completely the clients. In most cases the Dasluzettes were actual friends of the customers, moving in the same social circle. They chatted with the customers in comfy sofas while showing them the latest Daslu fashion picks.
The "maids", as they were called at Daslu, reinforced the concept of being at a get together with friends in a private residence in Brazil. Wearing black uniforms and white aprons, they offered refreshments and put the clothes back.
At checkout the customers sat in another luxurious and private salon chatting with their Dasluzette, as their payment was processed and their purchases were taken to their cars.
Before running into problems with the Brazilian authorities in 2005, Daslu estimated that 75% of people walking into Daslu ended up purchasing something, compared with 20% of the customers in a typical Brazilian mall.
At Daslu an innovative concept, a consistent store design and exceptional service, came together to provide an unique and differentiating experience for the client. This is a clear example of outstanding retailing. In the next posts I will write about additional ideas and examples for other retail segments.