Artist merchandising: backstage in the early days of Offstage

And in the Hellfest queue. 🤘 We tested out placing an order for T-shirts, IIconi albums and a Starmania keyring on the new digital platform created by Fimalac Entertainment: Offstage.

The verdict (in terms of the purchasing experience on the platform) is that we should abandon Zendesk for the telephone response, add some IQ to Botmind and keep Yves Douzon, the responsive and precise manager.

At Hellfest in Clisson, which this year had a shop dedicated to merchandising, the largest temporary shop in Europe, would we have been better served?

Why Offstage? In these times of Spotify’s organised despoilment, artists are in dire need of additional income to live on. Clara Luciani has told the story – is it still true? – that despite the success of her records, she sometimes played concerts at the Olympia for a fee of €160 at the start of her career, even though the venue was sold out.

Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and his holding company Fimalac Entertainment, already involved in the production of shows and the running of venues and theatres, have therefore created a subsidiary dedicated to the sale of merchandising products for artists, whether or not they have a contract with them: Offstage, launched in June. The digital platform features merchandising, some of it exclusive, and innovative music albums with enriched content, such as those by IIconi. Later, exclusive items, probably vintage albums, should make their appearance. Les Ardentes, the well-known Belgian festival, is due to kick off hostilities with Offstage this week.

2023 is a launch year, and our test didn’t focus on the range, its depth or the aesthetics of the website, but on the shopping experience, the item on which the new business intends to set the bar very high: « We distribute merchandising products on the 200 tours we organise. We want to become the leading digital distributor », Aurélien Binder told Les Echos.

The test

Our order was classic: a T-shirt, two IIconi albums (Clara Luciani and Serge Gainsbourg) and a Starmania keyring, announced as available in July. Everything worked fine, but like more than a quarter of e-commerce customers, we had our doubts about the delivery date: as the keyring was announced as being available in July, we couldn’t find any information about the possibility of having the available part of the order delivered. After exhausting Botmind, the bot that responds quickly but is a little off the mark as soon as you get very specific, we called customer service on 01 86 47 80 04 (from 11am).

The answers from Yves Douzon, Head of Merchandising, who helped create the site and optimise the friction points identified during these first few days.

We called customer service at around 11.50am, when it was supposed to be working, and the message on the answering machine said that the service was closed?

Yves Douzon : Thank you for bringing this problem to our attention. In fact, customer service is provided by an in-house team, based at the Théatre de la Michodière, which is also in charge of the very busy ticketing customer service. They are equipped with Zendesk. However, we’ve just noticed that when the agents are in the process of resolving a ticket by email, for example, or one of the agents has gone to the back office, the message proposed by the tool is: customer service is closed, instead of a dissuasive message, which we had pre-recorded. 

Zendesk wasn’t originally designed to provide telephone customer service, was it?

YD: Yes, but the tool was already in place, so we’re going to adapt.

I’m going to be a bit of a pain in the arse, but that’s what this column is about: testing the sutures of customer journeys, large companies and projects. My order contains 3 items, one of which is not yet available. Why don’t you offer to deliver the items that are already available?

YD: We use Shopify, which is very efficient and has enabled us to ramp up our business steadily since we started in June. But the option you mention doesn’t seem to be available.

So I’ll wait for my Starmania keyring. 😜

Thanks Yves

What about at Hellfest? The Sanctuary, the merchandising area, was one of the novelties of the year and presented by the organisers as « the largest ephemeral shop in Europe. Visually, it looked like a dark Roman temple. We weren’t there, but it’s reported that as soon as it opened, very long queues formed, a sign of metal fans’ notoriously tenacious desire for the right souvenir.

Over 90% of merchandise is still bought at festivals and concerts. See our « Call me the Director » section.


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