Uzbekistan is a country of world-famous bazaars whose prominence was unshakable for centuries. “I myself go to the bazaar in the season of fruits and vegetables and the best merchandisers work there,” says Roman Sayfulin, CEO of the largest supermarket chain in Uzbekistan Makro, in an exclusive interview with EastFruit.
However, if the number of bazaars in Uzbekistan is decreasing and modern shopping centres are growing in their place, then the number of supermarkets is growing at a very high rate. Makro is going to double the number of its stores in 2021. The new chain Baraka Market opened its first store in December 2020 with plans to increase their number to 50 in two months and 800 stores in two years! Carrefour, a major international food retail operator already operates in Tashkent and is actively competing for retail space with Macro.
In addition to opening brick-and-mortar stores, there is a more surprising trend in the development of online stores in Uzbekistan with a considerable share made up of fresh fruits and vegetables in the assortment of these stores! In 2020, a successful aggregator company Zakaz.ua entered the market with the Zakaz.uz brand and is already actively investing in advertising its site. This company is open to working with various supermarket chains and providing them with additional sales.
The Makro supermarket chain decided to develop its own unique platform but also cooperates with aggregators like Zakaz.uz. Makro CEO Roman Sayfulin admits that during the quarantine, they simply could not keep up with all online orders, but after the quarantine was cancelled, their numbers dropped sharply:
“If we talk about the share of sales through online trading, today it is insufficient in customer confidence, technological process, and speed of delivery. It is necessary for people to get used to it. This year we are launching our Dark Store, the first in Uzbekistan. We have made a decision to work on online delivery for our stores, but we are ready to launch any online aggregator on our platform that will offer online delivery services.
“It seems to me that shelf selection for an online store is obviously a business with great restrictions. The biggest example is out of stock and picking off the shelves is always a surprise. Therefore, our Dark Store format is a different approach that can guarantee the availability of goods because there will be a direct link to the online store. This will also speed up order collection,” says the CEO of Makro.
Since Makro focuses on the standardization of fruits and vegetables, in the long term, according to EastFruit experts, this will increase consumer confidence in online orders of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and berries.
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