The global watch business is in a state of continuous change, with the internet fundamentally altering approaches to marketing, distribution, retail and the way brands communicate. Staying ahead of the game at such a challenging time requires new skills, which is why Mercari Academy is offering six week courses that give people the tools they need to develop a winning distribution strategy for any watch brand. On the eve of the first course in the UK, Mercari Academy’s Thomas Baillod describes the benefits of his course.
WatchPro: What exactly does Mercari Academy offer?
Mercari Academy focuses on International distribution. It is the first of its kind as this knowledge is not available anywhere else. This six week course offers knowledge and a methodology that will enable the participants to find the right path to set a professional distribution strategy for his/her brand. This course mixes academic knowledge and a lot of field experience transmitted in an unfiltered way by the founder, a Swiss veteran in watch distribution. The Academy also enables the participants to network with other participants sharing the same passion, questions, problems and solutions.
WatchPro: Who’s it aimed at?
- Entrepreneurs : launching their own watch brands
- Directors: willing to understand and master the complexity of international distribution and flow with the company’s goal
- Junior Sales Managers: who want to boost their career by acquiring the right sales techniques and tools to make the difference
- Executives from other industries who want to understand the nuances and mechanics exclusive to the watch industry
- Journalists & watch experts: who want a backstage pass to see what it takes to get watches from production to wrist
Please check as well my last post on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/who-should-take-part-my-next-course-mercari-academy-thomas-baillod/
WatchPro: What is wrong with the traditional model of distribution?
Throughout the history of the mankind, the societal revolution has often emerged from the invention of objects that would offer new possibilities and opportunities. It has changed habits, forces and mentalities. The internet is definitely one of these big revolutions and its effects start to be felt in everyone’s lives. In business, the internet has totally and deeply modified marketing, meaning the way brands communicate. My conviction is that it will (it does already) affect distribution and deeply modify the way brands reach end consumers. It is of course a very straight and short affirmation on a topic that could and would require a much deeper analysis. But yes, the technology is there, habits have changed and the recent crisis we’ve been through has pushed brands to explore new paths.
The traditional models is based on the postulate that the watches are sent around the globe and wait in store for the right customer that was exactly looking for this reference. This stock immobilisation means a very big investment for all the actors involved (brands, distributors, retailers), thus a big financial risk. To have the watch patiently waiting for the customer in the most remote places around the world, the setup requires huge investment from the intermediaries and amounts up to 60% to 70% of the value of the watch. Important to mention is that though this number seems huge, it is understandable and the intermediaries aren’t making that much margin either, once you have deducted the huge cost that such a setup requires.
So what’s wrong with the traditional model? A newcomer that would skip the intermediaries and sell directly to the end consumer would be able to sell the same product specification at half the price, but still increase by 40% the net margin and enjoy 30% more marketing budget. It is not a coincidence that you have three new watch brands launching per day on Kickstarter. This definitely tells us that something is happening. Of course the death rate is still very high, but the new tendency is here and as the water goes to the sea, the companies go to profit. If today there is 2/3 of the margin of a watch that goes into the distribution, a brand will inexorably try to take this big part of the cake and find a way to reach directly the end consumer.
Today the Swiss watch industry is so dependent on the traditional model (95% of their sales still go through this setup) that Swiss brands are not in a good position to ride the next waves. Like France was so evolved with the Minitel that they were amongst the last one to adopt internet.
In conclusion, my course will help the participants to master the existing traditional model, while understanding the revolution we are experiencing and giving keys to be the first in line on the new tendencies and opportunities.
WatchPro: What is sustainable about the distributor model that you advocate and what does such a model look like?
In fact I don’t have any judgment of the models and don’t preach for a new one. I’m just witnessing a revolution and believe it is important to understand and anticipate it, instead of enduring it. The current distribution model will live on, but not for every brand and not for all intermediaries. The whole business model will have to adapt to the new rules.
Buying a Swiss watch has a certain cost and of course, it’s not about time. It’s mostly a status symbol. As going to a restaurant is not only about being fed, it’s about enjoying the moment, getting an experience. So people acquiring an expensive watch shall expect to touch it and live an experience when acquiring the product. In that aspect, e-commerce is not fulfilling that need. But believing that the new business model is e-commerce is obsolete. The new business model will use the power of internet but can integrate as well feeling, experiences and being in contact with the product, without being necessarily in a store. There a many interesting ways coming up to overcome this. In my academy we review many of these disruptive channels.
WatchPro: What do people need to do if they want to attend your masterclass?
Simple register to my academy, have a computer and a webcam for the webinars. The Masterclass is live, but can be reviewed on replay afterward.