On Wednesday, November 14, at the annual event organized by the ASU, the difficulties faced by the sector were clearly exposed. "Adapting to sophisticated times", was called the primary panel of the day on which the topics of the situation were analyzed (high inflation, a decline in sales, an increase in the credit and informal markets) and other more structural ones, such as the progress of new competitors (wholesalers and online shopping sites), client infidelity, wear of promotions and transformation of stores,
"All circuits are regulated and they come between 4 and 6 difficult months, "coincide with the industry. decrease from 1.5% to 2.5% for this year and predicts a gradual recovery in 2019, but from the second semesterLet's talk about this cross-cutting challenge agenda economic he met the leaders of the country's 6 major chains, representing 70% of the supermarkets: Alfredo Koto (Kotto), Agustin Bekar, Walmart, Carrefour, Federico Braun (La Anónima), Cencudud and Jean-Christophe Tieses (Liberté). What follows is a synthesis of the discussion.
– Supermarkets apply changes and adjustments. How will the chains be in the medium term?
scissors: We are introducing innovation and we have a pilot project with a fresh market (selling fresh products), which is a new proposal. At the same time, we have a greater commercial diversification and we focus on the consumer with a clear price proposition and offering ohmic channels.
Becar Varela: Industry is experiencing a huge process of destruction around the world. From the point of view of the customers' habits and also of the technological ones. This makes the relationship with our customers and the type of competition we are facing is quite different.
– What do you mean when you talk about a new contest?
Becar Varela: I refer to the online world, like Amazon and Argentina, to Mercado Libre. I think the speed at which we can move will be related to the state of competition in the industry. What is happening is that we have problems in Argentina that take away our time, energy and resources, things that do not happen in other parts of the world. But what we are trying to do is follow the customer, know what he needs. We believe there is not one channel, only one format, but the customer intends to choose where, when and how to buy. Let's all go to the omnique, and we are betting on it. We turn current stores into focusing on those we think have good potential, improving shopping experience (payment means, faster payment lines) and strengthening the format e-commerce, with the option of home delivery. In this, it is crucial to build alliances with other types of players, to share investments, customer data and skills. Today we are working with Mercado Libre in a scheme where we are both competitors and allies at the same time.
Baitiéh: I arrived in Argentina in January, and I think the customer will be more demanding for the assortment, which requires greater diversification and strives for omnipotent. One who goes first in the store, then on e-commerce, which decides according to the promotions. This is more demanding in everything and the future of consumption begins today with today's actions. We have the mission, as doctors, to help people live better.
– Specialists emphasize that the Argentine public is very untrue, much more than in other countries. Why is this happening? Is it typical for the local consumer or are the supermarkets unsuccessful?
Santa Coloma: A market as demanding as ours and so much competition, with so many options and promotions, generates a client dedicated to thinking and understanding the offers of brands and chains. This is much more visible in the interior of the country where people have more time and the distances are shorter. And also because of necessity, because everybody takes care of the pocket and we have a client who has a lot of well-lubricated exercises to look for the best deals.
Brown: I agree with everything about the changes, but I would like to highlight some peculiarities as we are from inside the country. The client, who is in a place in the middle of nowhere, is very different from the capital city. For example, we have developed an online platform with very defined features: one is that we sell everything we lack in our stores or because of a lack of space. I made an example of the white line, something we did not have, and we see that the digital channel added to the logistics we have has tremendous potential. The other is that we develop our own map to build loyalty. And having two own refrigerators gives us a competitive advantage because there is a very positive link between the outside and the domestic market: nobody eats a barbecue, as is done in Argentina because there is bone, something that can not be exported. This allows us to better complement the domestic export market. The idea is to continue to grow with these three instruments across the country.
Who: My is very macro, something that speaks a lot. We are very clear about where we are and where we should go, and we do it by creating ideas and new suggestions. What you need to understand is that technology takes not only all the commercial alternatives, but also other industries, such as the automotive industry. It is everywhere and deep changes are seen. Faced with these innovations, those of us who are responsible for businesses are obliged to create new ideas to keep you in business and try to capitalize on it. Now, at a general level, the country's economic governance must have a stronger and more solid state administration. Obviously it goes in that direction, but the results do not appear for a year, two or three. From here we see China growing up and there is a market with great potential that we must take advantage of. And then, at the state level, the only valid thing is competition.
– Specialists highlight another aspect of competition, in particular overlapping channels: wholesalers that point to the end-user; Supermarket stores to take advantage of bids; the advancement of pharmacies. How do you analyze the problem?
scissors: We see this in other countries, but they are formal and loyal competences. And thanks to this competition we have to rediscover each day. But we can not do it against informal competition and the black market. Compete with different formats, it looks perfect, we do it every day and every week. And when we face other competitors, what we offer are new ways of offering services.
Becar Varela: When we analyze the information circulating there, there is a tendency to confuse, to think structurally who our competitors are. For us, our competitor is every place where the customer buys, be it super, a wholesaler, fairs, pharmacies. These are. What we need to understand is that the customer can offer him the best. Not everyone can do the same, but on our side we have a great opportunity with a portfolio of multi-store shops, including the digital channel. But there is something that we all agree: if the rules of the game are the same for everyone, the competition is welcome. I have no problem competing with anyone on the table. The problem is when you compete with someone who does not follow these rules. Then the customer buys wherever he wants: our goal is to know and to work with valuable suggestions, but we will undoubtedly demand the same rules for everyone.
Baitiéh: Competition is a healthy thing that allows us to innovate. I personally watch the shops of all contestants and learn some things. Competition is healthy in our profession. Now, what we need is that there are the same rules for all circuits. This is what we want, a fair market and a fair market for all.
Santa Coloma: I agree in principle with everything that has been said so far. In our case, for the next year, we strive to play the game with each of our flags (Jumbo, Disco and Vea) that point to different segments. We are trying to be smart to use each of our brands for the game. I think the biggest challenge with three good brands in our portfolio is to differentiate the segments.
– Since last year, supermarkets have warned about the growth of the informal market and concealment. What numbers do they do?
Braun: It is very common that the informal market is about 30%, but at a general level. Now, if we observe what is happening inside the country, the segment of mass consumption reaches 70% in some places. This is not the exclusive responsibility of the current government: it is an endemic event that is aggravated in the harshest contexts. But fortunately the government clarifies it and there is a general coincidence between the companies and the administration. One thing is the informality that exists in all countries. In Chile, for example, unfair competition is almost zero. In Argentina the level is really serious.
– What kind of businesses avoids taxes? Did you find them?
Braun: There are everything from Asian shops to fairs. It is unacceptable that the government itself encourages fairs. This is impossible and inside it is more serious. What you need to understand is that I can not win an informal business selling the same products at half price.
Santa Coloma: I agree with Brown that the issue is more serious in the interior. I also believe that the high tax burden favors concealment. Higher taxes (gross income and taxes) allow informality to have more opportunities. If supermarkets pay between 7 and 8 points more than the one that works in black, it takes more advantage.
– You agree that the black market is very high and that inside is more serious. Are gaps in control at national, provincial or municipal level?
Who: It is very difficult to manage, for example, a country without a currency. That's what economists talk about and we are talking about what we are today. This has been an endemic problem for many years. And if we follow the route that many European countries are doing, it will eventually be formalized. We have a wonderful country, I repeat, with many opportunities in the agrarian-industrial field. But there is still more to be done where production can double and even triple, which is what we know how to do it.
– Chains promote promotions to attract the public. Experts warn that such offers generate a lot of mistrust and confusion with prices. How do you get out of this? Should we rephrase them?
scissors: What we want is that there are clear user references. Our focus is to concentrate promotions (all with 10%, 15% discount) to make it as clear as possible. We did this this year, and we will repeat this strategy in 2019.
Becar Varela: Everywhere in the world there are companies that work with "low prices every day". Walmart is one of them, while others have the strategy of making downloads and offering more. What I believe is that for a system of "low prices every day" to work, it can not be done with inflation of 30% or 40% because people lose reference to the value of things. We are trying, but the limit we have is the level of perception of people.
– Is it preferable to apply specific discounts over time? Do you think that with that?
Becar Varela: Our idea is to keep the price / product ratio as long as possible. We have achieved it at first, but now with the rise in inflation is a bit more difficult. Here, however, there are supermarkets in this table, but there are suppliers who also make promotions as a formula to reduce the average price. I think that we are in this together and, ultimately, the client decides and what it is is to give the message as clear as possible so that the consumer can make the best decision.
Baitiéh: Carrefour has 70 years of experience in retail and in Argentina 35 years. We have two rules: first, the lowest price. And if there is then an opportunity to reach a good deal with the vendor, what is called promotion, or the opportunity for the customer to take advantage of it, we also do it. Now I think it is necessary to adjust the promotional theme. There are useless promotions for the client and we will need to go back to the beginning of the importance of the promotion, which is to offer an opportunity. The "Great Prices" campaign, launched last year, is a good idea that we are trying to get back to the "lower price" principle. And the customer notices it. This year we have increased more than 2 million tickets, not customers. We regulate prices, promotions, assortments within a strategy that we define as a cultural change to the customer. This policy is already working, with more turnover and more customers.
– The Argentinean public is considered to be very untrue. Only 36% shop at the same place. This is associated with widespread distrust of prices. How do you plan to resolve it?
Santa Coloma: I think we have to work on this. We have conducted surveys to show that customers are overwhelmed by the number of offers that exist. Sometimes we think we do not understand the suggestions we make: customers will understand less. In this sense, we are advancing in the interior with specific price / product-based offers, but I agree with Agustin (Becar Varela) that high inflation is very difficult. But I think we have to work to help the customer because we understand that today, for the consumer, going to the supermarket is a tedious task and what we are looking for is to do it in a simple way.
Becar Varela: Last year we introduced a new basket-based pricing system with "unrivaled products" with discounts because they are our own brand. The truth is that this price clarity is highly valued by customers. To avoid confusion, we went out to report it.
Brown: We are in it and share the things they said. In our case, our strategy is based on three axes: the development of our own brand in order to give it wider and more intelligent. Secondly, we analyze how to make our bids more efficient. Thirdly, we strive to reduce logistical costs. You need to look for opportunities and develop them. This amount of things is what allows us to keep moving.
-It is the progress of the second brands. Can you balance?
reserve: The development of the own brand, provided the quality of the products is respected, is a good proposal. In the second brand the topic is quality. We, the big retail chains, have quality control. When we look at a product, we have the opportunity to control.
scissors: Like all of us here we have our own brand, second and third brands, clear prices, care prices and we have between 5 and 6 brands with different prices. This allows us to build a varied basket and improve the offer.
Becar Varela: On the subject of our own brands, we have a discussion with our suppliers.
"I suppose the producers of the leading brands do not like the idea. Are they strong arguments?
Becar Varela: These are debates (laughs). But the idea is how to make the economy easier for people. We think internally that we are buyers of our customers. We are the ones who buy for them and want to have what they need. Our proposal is to have leading brands, but also suggestions for cheaper brands. In this sense, our brand is the main vehicle and has grown very strongly. In some categories, they hold up to 18%.
– Do the other chains have these percentages?
Baitiéh: The "Dear Price" promotion is based on the products of our brand. The principle is that in this way we can help a supplier who has no brand and we give ours in return for a good price. When we have this opportunity, it allows us to benefit the customer, the supplier and our chain. The brand owns an average of 10%.
Becar Varela: The brand has reached 18% in some categories, but the average value is around 16%.
– What are the priorities of each of the next year's chains?
Santa Coloma: Two priorities: the first is to optimize the profitability of square meters of stores, especially those with the largest area and hyper. In this sense, the aim is to reduce some meters and to move to other boxes, with the possibility of hiring this surface for third parties and tracing the public. Then, with the Disco brand, the definition should keep it. The goal is to improve Disco stores that are old. Finally, work hard to reduce your operating costs. There are still things to do, but there are always new ideas.
Brown: В контекст като този, през който преминахме, с лихвите, които се надяваме да намалеят бързо, е време за ефикасност и адаптиране на всички процеси. Имаме много удовлетворения в този смисъл, с много промени в прилагането на средствата за плащане, производителността и търсенето на възможности за понижаване на цените. Днес цялата организация е обречена на това, защото сме в страна без кредит и това е слабост за местните компании, тъй като е много трудно за нас да финансираме програма за растеж. Сега, когато този процес изтече, ще бъдем в състояние да възобновим растежа, който имахме исторически.
Кото: Ние сме в същото. Бихме искали да постигнем по-бърз растеж, но трябва да бъдем предпазливи, защото успехът на нашата компания не е да заемаме твърде много. В страна без стабилна валута задължението трябва да бъде разумно. Ние се разрастваме малко по малко и ако е възможно да се отвори още една уста, ние го правим, защото представлява малко повече.
ножици: Имаме три оси на работа за 2019 година. Проектът на свежите пазари (пресни продукти), укрепването на омничният канал и засилването на електронната търговия. И накрая предлагам желание: да се намалят финансовите разходи, които днес са невъзможни, което не е устойчиво, а не само за нас супермаркети, а за цялата страна.
Бекар Варела: Преди три години започнахме процес на трансформация, основаващ се на три точки: подобряване на съотношението цена-опит, инвестирайки силно в подмладяване на магазините, касовите линии и канала за електронна търговия. Втората ос е иновация в процесите. Трябва да бъдем ефективни, за да можем да се конкурираме. И третата ос е ефективността, с която работим. И единственият начин да направите това е с талант, по-съвместен, по-гъвкав и по-дигитален начин.
Baitiéh: Приоритетът е да продължите с промяната и да натиснете по-бързо с екипа. Също така използвайте нашите магазини и разработете онлайн поръчки, за да улесните покупките.