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Before buying a sofa, Camif suggests that you try it out at a neighbour’s

Matthieu JOLLY
4 minutes
With “Près de chez vous” (near you), a hesitant buyer will contact the nearest owner of the sofa of his dreams to arrange a time to go and try it out.

The fact

Since it relaunched in 2009, Camif has banked on local presence and proximity. Capitalizing on this, it launched “Près de chez vous” at the beginning of 2016. For the company’s CEO Emery Jacquillat, this service aims to “remove one of the main constraints of online purchases, namely not being able to see, touch and try out products.” This constraint is all the more important for significant purchases like sofas!

In concrete terms, this service enables a customer who is still undecided to contact the owner of a sofa and ask him or her all his questions.




The “Près de chez vous” service is accessible directly on the site in the sofa’s product information sheet. The “visitor” just enters his postcode to locate the nearest Camif “ambassador” who has the sofa in question. He then enters his e-mail address and telephone number, and the site puts them in contact by telephone. If they wish to proceed, they can arrange an appointment to try out the sofa.




The 200,000 or so ambassadors who are willing to receive other customers at home are regular Camif customers, often pensioners and believe that unity is strength.

The initiative proves to be win-win. The future buyers are reassured and the ambassador receives a €40 voucher on the Camif site if the sale goes through.

As Emery Jacquillat says, “80% of our customers agree to be put in contact with each other. Half the time, a telephone conversation is enough. And when there are visits, 80% of them lead to a purchase.” Compared with the usual conversion rate of 2% on the Internet and 50% in stores, these figures make one dizzy. Enough to consider extending the initiative to other pieces of furniture.



Nothing is inevitable! While it was bankrupt in 2008, now Camif has posted sales of 40 million euros for 2015, up 15%. At the heart of this turnaround is its transformation. Formerly a mail order company, it has refocused on its original business and become a web site specializing in “made in France” furnishings. For Emery Jacquillat, “consumers have changed. […] They now want to know what they are buying, where parts come from, the history of the piece of furniture, etc.” Customers can now choose products on the basis of where they are made. If they are interested, they can even watch a report on the supplier’s know-how. Following on from this, Camif has for 3 years organized the “Tour du Made in France”, where customers, workers and company staff meet during tours of factories and workshops.




The “Près de chez vous” service naturally reflects this collaborative and concerted dimension. Obviously, as far as “visitors” are concerned, the aim is above all to minimize the risk given the cost of a sofa for the household, against a backdrop of dwindling buying power. In this respect, this initiative is like those of the French cinema chain C2L with its “Satisfaction Guaranteed” card or of Teatreneu in Barcelona with its “Pay Per Laugh” service.

But the service is also interesting for what it doesn’t say. In putting a potential buyer in touch with the customer, Camif demonstrates that the role of seller is changing. With the Internet, consumers prepare their purchases in advance by checking product details, prices and customer reviews. When they get to the point of sale, their choice is therefore already made. Consequently, the member of staff must act more like an adviser than a sales assistant. However, by creating this direct CtoC link, “Près de chez vous” is also a risk for the retailer. Rather than controlling and managing customer comments on its site, Camif has opted for openness and gives its ambassadors the keys to its customer relations! It’s up to them to make or mar its reputation. A calculated risk that matches Camif’s core values: an environmentally-aware and responsible company that distributes sustainable quality products.

Matthieu JOLLY
Facing with the changes in retail, today's innovations help Matthew to think about tomorrow's relationship between the brand and the consumer.
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