OrdersYou have taken the first step. In April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, the delivery platform opened its first dark store, an exclusive store for online sales. Today, despite the recession, the format It is all the rage in the mass consumption business and was adopted by Rappi and several supermarkets, including Cencosud (Jumbo, Disco and Vea), Dia y Libertad. “It is an option that we are evaluating very seriously”They pointed out from Walmart, the chain that today belongs to Francisco De Narváez.
OrdersYa, the pioneer, counts today 40 dark stores distributed in Capital and 12 provinces. The firm, a subsidiary of the German giant Delivery Hero, It plans to add between 20 and 30 more stores this year, in tune with what happens in the rest of the countries of the region. “We open dark stores everywhere, but Argentina is the largest chain, the one that grew the most and the one with the best response,” he told Clarion Fernando Salmain, a senior executive at OrdersYa.
The dark store is a low cost supermarket, without attention to the public. They are premises of between 200 and 400 square meters, with cash registers, gondolas, refrigerators and shelves with merchandise, arranged according to demand. Only the “pickers” work there, the order owners. The delivery men are waiting outside.
This modality is known as quick commerce , because the idea is deliver orders in the shortest time possible. “Your super, super fast” is the slogan with which Cencosud promotes Spid 35, its incipient network of dark stores, complementary to its 284 physical points of sale. In Argentina, Spid 35 already has 2 independent stores and another 16 armed ones within its hypermarkets. Each operates in a radius of less than 3 kilometers around.
What is new is that the delivery platforms themselves have a double role: they provide distributors to supermarkets and at the same time they enter the business directly. Not surprisingly, then, Salmain, from AplicacionesYa, has a working background at Molinos and Walmart. Rappi reacted the same way. Days ago he announced the arrival of Turbo Fresh to the country and the opening of their first 6 dark stores and they plan to close 2021 with 50 stores.
The initial plan is to expand the coverage radius in the Capital and then expand the service to the 9 cities where the application operates. “Each location has between 1,000 and 2,000 commodities”, Explains Matías Casoy, Rappi’s director for the Southern Cone. In each store, he added, 6 pickers work on average, under the orders of a zone supervisor.
OrdersYa and Rappi strategies are similar, but not the same. In the first case, Salmain details, it aims to develop the chain with its own merchandise and scale in sales volume. “The type of purchase today is urgent, of products of immediate need. The idea is to move on to replacement ”, clarifies Salmain.
Turbo Fresh, the name of Rappi’s dark stores.
The difference between one and the other is the volume. The most demanded categories in this channel are dairy, beverages, frozen and fresh foods. OrdersYa analyzes adding others, such as warehouse items, perfumery and cleaning, among others. “With the right assortment, we can expand the percentage of consumer needs,” says Salmain.
Rappi’s idea is different. A part of the stock is our own, but “we are in talks with several supermarkets so that they can use the platform to sell their merchandise,” says Casoy. The executive justifies it: “We are a technology company.”
The dark store is the most visible part of the reconversion of the supermarket. ECommerce skyrocketed with the pandemic. “In 2019, it represented 1% of sales. This year it is around 4% “, highlights Javier González, Nielsen analyst. The expert evaluated that “the dark store allows consumers to access replacement purchases (on average 5 or 6 items) quickly”. And that is why he believes that “could boost online sales even more”.
The penetration of eCommerce in Argentina is similar to that of other countries in the region. González clarifies, however, that it is still “well below developed markets, such as the US and Europe, where already exceeds 20% of the total volume”. The networks, which the jargon calls modern channel, are aware and react in various ways. One of them is to develop a network of dark stores. The Spanish company Dia, for example, has two such stores. It is also part of Walmart’s strategy. Carrefour does not have it planned.
With a presence in the center and north of the country, Libertad, from the French group Casino, inaugurated this year its first dark store in the province of Mendoza. The chain has 15 hypermarkets and based on “the good results with the first online sales store, we continue to explore the expansion of the format in other places,” they said when asked. Córdoba would be the next destination.
In terms of eCommerce, the most advanced is Coto. The “Coto Digital” version, they assure, represents 15% of total sales. It is based on a hybrid scheme, in which they have an exclusive area to attend online orders in their 30 leading hypermarkets. For now, they do not foresee adding dark stores either.
Boy cheap and fast
An Orders Employee has finished assembling an order.
The dark store format is the newest format in retail. In mass consumption, they are stores similar to supermarkets, but without attention to the public. They are between 200 and 400 square meters, with cash registers, gondolas, refrigerators and shelves with merchandise, arranged according to demand.
They work through delivery applications (OrdersYa and Rappi) and the eCommerce portals of traditional chains. When a customer makes a purchase, the application triggers two orders simultaneously: to the store and the delivery man. The picker assembles the order and makes it available for delivery. The goal is to get you to your destination in the shortest time possible.
Initially, they are intended for emergency purchases and the most popular products are dairy, beverages, frozen and fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables. To fulfill the promise of speedy delivery, the coverage radius of a dark store does not exceed 2.5 kilometers in all directions.
The advantage is that they are inexpensive. They do not require a lot of staff (they work between 6 and 8 employees) or a good location, which are the most expensive.