In the last 12 months Skype has booted Google off it’s throne to become the new darling of the IT industry. Pixmania, with its remarkable exponential growth in its five successive years since launch, probably occupies a similar position amongst European online retailers. So the newly announced union between the two probably creates a level of frustration in their rivals akin to what we mere mortals experience when looking at Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
Under the terms of the agreement, which covers France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Estonia and these hallowed – if cold and rainy – isles, Pixmania has created a virtual portal inside its website for the VoIP giant. Dubbed by the two companies as ‘Store-In-Store’ it transports users to a customised page which neatly homogenises both the Pixmania and Skype styling, provides interactive guides for users telling them how to use Skype and contains a product listing that stocks every Skype-certified device on the market.
Announced in Paris at the glitzy location of Le Carrousel Du Louvre it gave us a chance to quiz both Pixmania and Skype execs on the launch.
“It really is an example of how two companies can come together come together to enhance both their products offerings,” said Jerome Archambeaud of Skype France. “The potential for Skype certified devices is immense. If you think of the iPod it has a phenomenal accessory market and yet you have to pay a lot of money for the player in the first place. The beauty of Skype is that it is free so consumers can use it and become familiar for nothing then go out and purchase the extra pieces of hardware they think will enhance their experience.
“Skype has no real desire to get into the hardware business,” Archambeaud continued. “We think it would detract from our core focus of making the best VoIP software we can but we see it as our responsibility to test out products on our software and certify devices that pass to help customers buy with confidence. The Pixmania brand has grown immensely in recent years and its decision to expand its product base and really work with its suppliers convinced us the time was right to make a truly bespoke store.”
Ulric Jerome, MD of Pixmania, backed this up. “The way we have grown in recent years is quite phenomenal and we are in a position develop some revolutionary new ways for customers to shop online. Video guides, customised manufacturer layouts inside our website and even the option for customers to submit their own video reviews shows we are going to be at the forefront in revolutionising the online shopping experience.”
Personally speaking, I have to admit that providing dedicated ‘Store-In-Stores’ isn’t an entirely new concept and a number of other online retailers already do this. That said, the interactivity of the new ‘Skype by Pixmania’ store goes significantly further than anything I’ve witnessed before and it will be interesting to see if this does indeed spark a new trend in Internet shopping…