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Valtech's global retail tour: Insights by our industry expert – part 2

Pascal Malotti
Global Retail Strategy Lead & Strategy Director at Valtech France

June 19, 2024

As part of a four-part retail blog series exploring the world's retail meccas, I continued my journey from New York to Europe's fashion capital, Paris. As a resident near the iconic Champs-Élysées, recognized internationally for its unparalleled beauty, I have the privilege of observing its continuous transformation as an integral part of my daily routine. However, on this occasion I embarked on a more thorough exploration, transcending my usual role as a mere shopper to scrutinize its intricacies through the lens of a seasoned retail professional.

Venturing along the storied Avenue, I was struck by a palpable sense of transformation permeating the atmosphere. Once renowned solely for its traditional luxury, movie theaters, bars and restaurants, the avenue now serves as a dynamic stage for innovation and evolution in retail. This shift is evident at the intersection of established luxury brands and emerging players, all vying for prominence in this prestigious locale. Against the backdrop of historical landmarks and opulent storefronts, the Champs-Élysées stands as a symbol of luxury and elegance, signaling the onset of a new era for retail in Paris.

Champs-Élysées: A journey through innovation, tradition and transformation

As I ventured along the Champs-Élysées, I observed a fascinating mix of brands and establishments that spoke volumes about the transformative changes underway. Once an avenue primarily frequented by Parisians, the Champs-Élysées has shifted towards catering predominantly to tourists, a transition accelerated by the pandemic. Before this shift, the street was known for its charming blend of cultural and entertainment venues, including traditional restaurants, cabarets like the iconic Lido, and historic movie theaters. In fact, two of the oldest movie theaters in Paris, which had been fixtures of the Champs-Élysées for decades, have closed within the past year.

Restaurants and movie theaters shuttering their doors signal a shift towards a more upscale environment that attracts luxury brands capable of affording the high rents of this prestigious retail location.

Amid these established names, I noticed the emergence of new players, such as the Swiss technical sportswear brand On, making its mark on the avenue's illustrious history. Additionally, the Champs-Élysées boasts a diverse array of lifestyle brands and retailers, catering to various consumer preferences. From sneaker specialists like JD and Foot Locker to industry giants like Adidas, Nike and Lululemon, the thoroughfare hosts a dynamic mix of brands that have secured their place in this vibrant marketplace.

During my visit to the illustrious Champs-Élysées, I explored nine stores, including Apple, Zara, Nike, Sephora, Galeries Lafayette, Lululemon, Rituals and Adidas. Each offered unique insights into the evolving retail landscape of this iconic avenue, emphasizing its transformation into a prime destination for global consumers. This change is emblematic of Paris's broader evolution into the world's foremost retail tourist destination.

Apple’s omnichannel prowess in a landmark locale

Nestled amidst the historical grandeur of the Champs-Élysées, the Apple Store stands as a testament to technological innovation and seamless customer experience. Here, shoppers can seamlessly transition from online exploration to in-store interaction, guided by knowledgeable staff who embody the brand's commitment to excellence. The store's integration of educational sessions and workshops reflects Apple's dedication to fostering creativity and learning within the community.

The Apple store smoothly integrates the mobile app with in-store services, providing convenience and efficiency. Housed in a famous Parisian building, the store combines local charm with Apple's signature standardized design, creating a distinct and memorable shopping experience. From its sustainable design to its immersive in-store experiences, the Apple Store on the Champs-Élysées exemplifies the pinnacle of retail innovation in today’s age, seamlessly blending the physical and digital worlds to offer one of the best customer experiences globally.

Zara’s twin pillars of fast fashion and premium shopping experience

As I venture into the world of fashion on the Champs-Élysées, the dual presence of Zara stores offers a fascinating glimpse into the brand's targeted segmentation strategy. The expansive new store, spanning 2700 square meters, with its tailored layout, self-checkout options, provides a seamless shopping experience for discerning clientele.

In addition, the mainstream store embodies a wider appeal and offers the option to book a fitting room in advance via the mobile app, enhancing convenience for shoppers, emphasizing the brand’s agility in adapting to global trends and specific customer needs, underscoring its commitment to delivering accessible fashion with a touch of sophistication.

Nike – balanced innovation with classic appeal

Stepping into the Nike flagship store on the Champs-Élysées unveils a masterful fusion of tradition and innovation. Overcoming initial layout challenges, Nike strategically integrated its mobile app, bridging the gap between digital and physical retail. Specialized kiosks for products such as bras and leggings, which require technical specifications for the best fit, allow customers to make informed choices based on precise measurements. Nike's departure from traditional catalogs represents the brand's efforts to elevate its image as a premium fashion leader. This shift sets the stage for the upcoming Nike House of Innovation, a groundbreaking concept that aims to revolutionize retail through immersive experiences and cutting-edge technology.

The House of Innovation promises to be a beacon of Nike's commitment to redefining the retail landscape. Through sensory-rich environments and interactive displays, it will offer a glimpse into the future of retail, where every touchpoint is meticulously crafted to delight and inspire. Together, these initiatives underscore its unwavering dedication to innovation and customer-centricity, solidifying its position as a leader in the global sportswear market.

The interactive beauty wonderland of Sephora

The Sephora flagship store on the Champs-Élysées transcends the boundaries of traditional retail, offering visitors an immersive journey into the world of beauty innovation. From high-tech interactivity to hands-on exploration of the latest beauty products, the store is a hub of indulgence and experimentation. Exclusive sections dedicated to celebrity lines, such as Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez and Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, further elevate the in-store experience, enticing customers with the allure of celebrity-endorsed cosmetics.

Collaboratively branded in-store services and a tiered mobile loyalty program enrich the shopping journey, fostering deeper engagement with the Sephora brand. In the store, all services are offered by various beauty and cosmetics brands, with Sephora overseeing coordination and communication. With its seamless integration of online and offline channels, Sephora on the Champs-Élysées sets a new standard for experiential retail in the beauty industry.

Millennial elegance in a heritage space with Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette's Champs-Elysées location stands as a reinvented temple of retail, transforming the iconic Virgin Megastore space into a visionary concept by Bjarke Ingels. This establishment isn't just a store; it's an incubator for both emerging talents and hyper-luxury brands, expertly curated to attract the discerning millennial shopper. It is where the thrill of unearthing new designers intertwines with the allure of established luxury names, offering a unique spectrum of products that cater to a clientele looking for the exceptional and the undiscovered. With its sophisticated ambiance and an emphasis on unique brand stories, Galeries Lafayette on the Champs-Elysées has crafted a shopping experience that is as much about exploration as it is about acquisition.

Lululemon’s commitment to wellness and community

The Lululemon store on the Champs-Elysées has two main goals: extending its presence in Europe and boosting brand recognition in a new market. Situated in one of Paris's most esteemed locations, the store is not just a sales point. Rather, it’s a strong statement of Lululemon's intent to establish itself in the European market. The physical store helps the brand to overcome ecommerce restrictions, offering a critical touchpoint in a country that appreciates a physical brand presence. Although the advanced omnichannel experiences and service offerings associated with Lululemon in North America, such as the Peloton partnership, have not yet reached France, the Champs-Elysées store represents the first leap towards this success.

Rituals - a beacon of well-being on a global stage

Rituals offers a sanctuary of serenity and balance in the heart of Paris. Exemplifying the brand's expertise in aesthetic and experiential retail, this concept store focuses on creating an immersive, sensory-rich shopping experience that fosters strong emotional connections and brand loyalty through experiential retail, brand storytelling and community-building activities. The store invites visitors to embark on a journey of self-discovery and rejuvenation. Inspired by Japanese aesthetics, every detail of the store reflects a commitment to mindfulness and tranquility, transforming everyday routines into enriching rituals.

From immersive in-store experiences to a mobile app that enhances customer engagement by allowing pre-ordering and advance payment from your phone or computer, ensuring your order is ready upon arrival, Rituals on the Champs-Élysées embodies the brand's ethos of promoting well-being and inner harmony. By integrating sustainability practices, omnichannel capabilities and localized offerings, Rituals differentiates itself in the market and enhances customer engagement.

Adidas’ fresh start

As the Adidas flagship store prepares to relocate to a more central position on the Champs-Élysées, it exemplifies the brand's dedication to sustainability and innovation in sportswear. This strategic move aims to increase visibility and foot traffic, solidifying Adidas' presence on one of Paris's most prestigious avenues. The store showcases Adidas' commitment through its product offerings, emphasizing sustainable materials and eco-friendly practices.

However, challenges with in-store connectivity hinder seamless access to rewards promised by the brand's mobile app, which is designed to boost customer engagement. It is important to note that while mobile apps are beneficial, they require a robust mobile network or Wi-Fi to function optimally in-store. Otherwise, customers may experience issues, as was the case in the previous location where the app was not functioning properly inside the store. The move to the Champs-Élysées may address this issue. Despite these technical issues, the impending relocation reaffirms Adidas' position as a leader in the global sportswear market.

Champs-Elysées’s unique retail ecosystem

As I conclude my exploration of the Champs-Élysées, it is evident that this iconic avenue is more than just a shopping destination—it’s a microcosm of innovation, tradition and transformation. Once primarily a haven for locals, the Champs-Élysées has evolved into a bustling hub of tourism and high commerce. From luxury flagships to experiential concept stores, each establishment offers a unique glimpse into Paris's evolving retail landscape. Mobile apps have emerged as indispensable tools, not just for daily tasks, but also as the primary means of orchestrating and enhancing the shopper's journey.

Customers expect nothing but the best and the avenue's renowned brands meet this challenge by tailoring their omnichannel experiences to perfection. And the stores on the Champs-Élysées exemplify this blend of tradition and innovation, showcasing some of the world's most important brands with the best ecommerce strategies imaginable.

I eagerly anticipate the next leg of our adventure, where we will continue to unravel the mysteries of retail in London (link). Until then, keep exploring, discovering and embracing the evolution of retail in the City of Lights.


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Emilie Robert
Global Vertical Retail Lead & Global Client Executive,
Pascal Malotti
Global Retail Strategy Lead & Strategy Director at Valtech France,

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