Retail looks towards digitization without forgetting the physical space

Direct your gaze to new horizons without losing sight of your roots. This has been one of the main conclusions of the second roundtable of the 1st Retail and Mass Consumption Forum organized by elEconomista and which is being held this morning in Madrid and which was inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas.

At the discussion table ‘Digital transformation in distribution’, their ideas were presented by Sacha Michaud, co-founder of Glovo; Axel Nazarian, director of ecommerce at Carrefour Espaa; Ignacio Zunzunegui, Director of Marketing at AliExpress; Miguel ngel Zamorano, Director of Store Management and Marketing at Uvesco; Jos Javier Romero, Director of Systems and Technology of the IFA Group; Manuel Muoz, director of Retail Fashion and Consumer Goods at Inetum; ngela Lin, Director of Business Development at Tmall Global, of the Alibaba group, and Csar del Barrio, Retail Digital architet at Microsoft.

Companies see the need to continue advancing in digitization processes to increase their market shares, but at the same time they continue to consider the physical space, the stores, as one of the potentials of their companies. A first approach to this analysis has been carried out by del Barrio, who has pointed out that his company works to reduce the digital divide between companies. “The pandemic has helped us to accelerate digitization at a forced march, but the technologies implemented are there to stay. In Spain we have leading companies that are supported by technology but there is also a gap for it to reach the entire sector. Microsoft is there to help since they can reduce costs, but we are also investing so that employees have the necessary training to advance in digitization, “he commented.

In relation to his last analysis, del Barrio wanted to emphasize that digitization goes beyond the technological tool. “It is not just putting a QR on the table so that people read the letter, the mentality has to accompany it. We have to know the demands of our public. Anyone who understands it will be rewarded,” he explained.

After this intervention, the IFA Group’s director of systems and technology took the floor. Romero assured that “the future will be physical or not be” and reminded that you have to listen to the consumer. “It doesn’t make sense to invest in technology just to invest. Investments are being measured very well and the path is being walked intelligently. It is true that there is still a long way to go, especially in customer analytics, but when you land in some of our stores They are concerned that their shelves are full, “he said. In relation to online sales, Romero explained that before the pandemic its share was 3% and that during 2020 it shot up to 15%. “Now we are at 6 7%, so you can see that the physical store is still the mainstay,” he added.

Of the same opinion is the director of Store Management and Marketing at Uvesco. Zamorano explained that the pandemic has tripled online sales, but he recalled that what kept the pulse was the physical space. “Digitization is not only e-commerce, but other things that we are also doing and learning. We now have an innovation observatory to look for new ideas. But we also want to offer the best shopping experience and we continue to open physical stores,” he said. .

After her intervention, it was the turn of the Director of Business Development at Tmoll, a company belonging to the Alibaba Group that helps Spanish companies enter the Chinese market through digitization. “The pandemic has revealed the importance of going digital and global. At Alibaba we do not believe that online will replace offline, but that what we call new retail will appear, digitization in the value chain,” explained Lin, who added that for this concept it is necessary to put the consumer at the center.

“Alibaba’s mission is to simplify doing business. We are made up of several companies and thanks to the ecosystem created, we offer electronic commerce. We also help Spanish SMEs to access China without having to travel to the country,” he summarized.

From Carrefour, who are also committed to conserving and continuing to invest in physical stores, the accent was also placed on knowing the consumer. “It is not only about being very technological, we also have to be quick in our decisions. Customers are now more demanding with their needs and we know that they are not divided between the offline or online customer, but that they are omnichannel”, said Alex Nazarian . Likewise, he explained that the pandemic has also served in his group to accelerate investments and influence a business vision based on sustainability and profitability.

Even a platform that is known as virtual has physical plans. This was stated by the Marketing Director of AliExpress in Spain. “We want to close the year by opening seven stores in Spain,” said Ignacio Zunzuregui. Likewise, he also spoke of the global problems of scarcity of some raw materials. “It is affecting all our vendors and we know they are working to offer their products. We ask that they have insured stock and we expect orders to be received in three or five days at the most,” he added. In addition, on whether the possible shortage of product would affect prices, Zunzuregui said they are working on a plan to “be the most economical platform for Spaniards.”

The round table also had the virtual presence of the co-founder of Glovo ,. Sacha Michaud. “The trend of retail is in the speed, the one that has the product is the retailer and in a short time the big companies will also bring their products closer,” he analyzed. On the controversy raised with the regulation of the riders, the executive decided that they will adapt “to the decision of the Spanish government.” Michaud also spoke of contamination. He said that 30% of food purchases are made by car, while his company, in Spain, has a majority of vehicles that are bicycles. “In addition, you can also do the multi-belly. Technology is also used for that, we thus reduce delivery time,” he added.

The last speaker to speak was Inetum’s Director of Retail Fashion and Consumer Goods. Muoz once again emphasized the idea that physical space is fundamental. “The customer experience requires the physical space for interaction.” He also emphasized last-mile services, which he said “are essential.” In addition, he offered his company to help SMEs to digitize.

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