Skimium, the French ski equipment rental platform, offers a streamline customer journey that is mainly based on geolocation, with interactive and customised maps.
Skimium, a partner of Decathlon, has reinvented ski equipment rental by offering customers a booking system to kit themselves out as best as possible at a lower cost, and making it easier for stores to manage their stocks better. Easy and effective, the model covers 350 stores in 250 ski resorts, offering a wide range of payment methods and a full refund in the event of cancellation.
Skimium was created 15 years ago as a Decathlon subsidiary. Since 2016, the independent structure is headed by Éric Laboureix and Guy Belec, who was a former employee of the Decathlon group and is a passionate skier. It is an eCommerce structure that generates revenue for mountain sports stores with a winter sports equipment rental system. Skimium brings added value to independent companies by providing them with maximum online exposure and visibility.
The Skimium business model is similar to that of Booking.com for the hotel business. The French company not only works with major sports chain stores, in particular the Decathlon group, but also with small independent shops. Until now, the model has proven its worth in France, Italy and Andorra. However, Skimium intends on continuing its international expansion over the next few years.
As the company only earns money on the online part, Skimium must be the best possible service provider bringing a maximum of traffic and converting visits into purchasing actions. Skimium stands out from its competitors due to its target. Moving away from tour operators or hosts, Skimium targets private individuals, groups of friends, couples or families who are preparing their trip independently, and who are looking for a good plan. Finally, Skimium bases itself on the DNA of its historic brand, Decathlon: first and foremost customer satisfaction, and a sales strategy based on excellent quality and value for money.
A simple concept up against complex challenges
The concept of the Skimium platform is very simple: the customer books quality equipment online, following advice customised to their level, they pay a deposit online, then on the first day of the booking, they will go and collect their equipment in the store selected. In this way, the customer can be sure to have the equipment that they chose, which is particularly useful during school holiday periods, and the shop can organise its activity and its stocks. Above all, the customer benefits from discounts of over 40% compared to the average prices applied in store, and they can cancel their booking right up until the day before their trip, free of charge.
The key challenges for Skimium’s development over the next few years are focused on international expansion, the growth of summer activities (mountain bikes and electric bikes), and data usage between the stores and Skimium. Indeed, since the brand is not a franchise, affiliation agreements govern the use of data according to the shops. However, these data are instrumental for studying customer buying habits and optimising the Skimium platform. So, the challenge involves recovering a maximum amount of data with the minimum manual effort, whilst respecting the personal data of customers.
The Covid health crisis has become an added challenge: the missed 2021 winter season has been a cruel blow. However, Skimium’s directors are looking at the bigger picture and remain optimistic: “Today, we have eliminated the last obstacles to online ski rental, and the level of digitalisation is increasing rapidly. We have lowered the deposit amounts, added payment methods such as holiday vouchers, and above all, in the event of cancellation, we refund down to the very last euro, without any justification needed”, explains Pierre Briand, Marketing & Communication Director at Skimium.
Geolocation is soaring
Skimium is in partnership with 350 stores in 250 ski resorts, mainly located in the Alps and the Pyrenees. The online equipment booking platform is based on geolocation for one very simple reason: the top criterion for the customer is still the geographical location of the store in relation to where they are staying in the resort. “After working with an architectural firm for 10 years on creating digital maps unfortunately in a fairly inflexible format, we switched to the Woosmap platform, which was the most effective and most flexible solution for presenting the most user-friendly interactive maps for internet users. Our aim was to highlight the points of sale in the resorts and above all put them in order according to the top criterion: proximity to the accommodation. This was a crucial step for every possible reason imaginable, from the user experience to the Mobile First strategy, including interactivity and product customisation”, says Pierre Briand.
Having maps reflecting its sector of activity, with points of interest clearly identified, for example ski schools or ski lifts, is a decisive advantage for Skimium: customers can get a better idea of the location of each store. The customer journey is all the more immersive when the interactive map includes pictograms showing the brand. Thus, the Marketing & Communication Manager sums up:
Pierre BriandMarketing & Communication Manager
The French company therefore uses Woosmap Search API to suggest to the user the store that is the closest to where they are staying. If the equipment is to be delivered to the customer, Skimium is also able to indicate to the customers the exact meeting place. “Although we are not present in a resort, we offer equipment delivery, and again, we need to geolocate public places very accurately, for example opposite the tobacconist, or in front of the swimming pool, etc. The degree of precision and reliability of Google Maps products reassures our customers” adds Pierre Briand.
The geolocation challenge in the customer journey
As all of its revenue comes from online bookings, Skimium’s geolocation approach is purely eCommerce driven. In this respect, the French company stands out from its competitors that are omnichannel, with a share of the in-store profits or on other sales channels. The customer journey on the Skimium platform is therefore analysed and optimised very carefully. Google Maps mapping is mainly there to ensure that the user doesn’t waste their time. “The number one enemy is the bounce rate, which is when the customer arrives on the Skimium site and then leaves it to find additional information, with the risk of going to a competitor”, explains the French platform’s Marketing & Communication Director.
Geolocation is a key step in the customer journey: above all, it must not be a stumbling block or a way out. Skimium currently delegates all of its mapping and geolocation considerations to Woosmap, with extremely positive results. The Marketing Manager describes an effective process: “In 15 days, we integrated between 80 and 90% of the system, simply and without any issues”. Skimium is now taking advantage of Woosmap’s full expertise with a great deal of advice and sharing, in particular case studies of customers positioned in similar sectors of activity.
Skimium’s customers are loyal. However, given the nature of the service offered, on average, they only make bookings once every eighteen months. Looking ahead, in terms of geolocation, Skimium may add up-to-date data on the amount and conditions of the snow to its platform, or a stream of recent photos/videos to give an idea of the conditions. In the meantime, Skimium teams are extremely satisfied with their expert geolocation partner, Woosmap services and Google Maps products: “Since working with Woosmap, we no longer receive requests to help customers who are having trouble identifying the geolocation of a store or collection point”, concludes Pierre Briand.