As the retail industry is changing globally, the retail business in Finland is also changing. The Finnish customer is precise, and the retailers that will do the best in a near future are the ones who can combine online with brick and mortar to a perfectly seamless shopping experience.
Meet Virpi Viinikainen, new Country Manager for Clas Ohlson in Finland.
“Ecommerce in Finland is growing, and customers are generally well aware of what they want. Customers, who choose to visit physical stores, use the online store to check the price and availability, and on what shelf they will be able to find the product they want. The combination of online and physical store is important,” says Virpi Viinikainen.
“I would say that nobody in Finland has yet been able to seamlessly combine the digital and physical shopping experience, so that a customer could freely choose between channels or change channels in the middle of a transaction. But having said that, I believe that Clas Ohlson is among the top players in the country, in this area.”
What do you see in the future for Finnish brick and mortar stores?
“Looking at shopping in general, people still shop in physical stores, both in city centres and in shopping malls, although the reasons for customers to go there are changing. These places will become more and more of venues for experiencing and for socializing, for meeting people who share the same values, to be part of a community. Clas Ohlson in Finland is a strong brand with loyal customers, and this is a great foundation for building communities,” says Virpi.
“The service in physical stores is an important part of why customers shop there. For smaller errands, customers do not mind using self-service solutions, but for larger or more complicated purchases, they need to be serviced by people, and assistance should be provided immediately. My guess is, the number one complaint among Finnish customers towards any store in general; service is not provided fast enough. Regardless of channel, the keyword is convenience.”
Clas Ohlson Finland in the future
“Clas Ohlson is passionate for simplifying life in all kinds of homes. This resonates well with the Finnish people, who I believe have quite a practical mindset. We would now need to position Clas Ohlson top of mind when it comes to making life at home easier. We really want to be part of our customers’ everyday life. And we will continue to develop an even more seamless and convenient shopping experience,” Virpi Viinikainen concludes.
Virpi Viinikainen starts her position with Clas Ohlson on March 1st. Her most recent role was as Senior Vice President for the B2C business unit for omnichannel retail at Kesko Group Building and Technical Trade. Prior to that, she was Chain Director of K-Rauta Finland for three years, following her six years as the Director of HR and Communications at Kesko’s Car and Machinery Trade division.