I can already say that we plan to open 20 more stores in the second quarter of this year. However, we are focusing on maximizing potential where we have been operating so far: eastern, southeastern Poland and parts of central Poland. We are constantly testing different places in terms of topography and population density. We check where our sales model is needed and where we earn revenue, says Błażej Białczyk, CEO of Eurocash Group abc na kole, in an interview with Retailnet.
The abc on wheels concept, owned by the Eurocash Group, has recently accelerated significantly with expansion. How many mobile points are there now and how does the network work?
The abc mobile concept on wheels has been in operation since 2015. Its creator is Martha Królikowska (Filipkowska). The network was created in response to our research. They found that 5 million people in Poland do not have access to a nearby grocery store, and there are many regions that are almost completely out of the reach of daily shopping. Abc on Wheels solves this problem and appears where traditional trading has not yet arrived. There are currently more than 100 mobile hotspots in the network, but this number is dynamic as we are constantly evolving.
What are your development plans and how do you assess the potential of this market?
I can already say that we plan to open 20 more stores in the second quarter of this year. However, we are focusing on maximizing potential where we have been operating so far: eastern, southeastern Poland and parts of central Poland. We are constantly testing different places in terms of topography and population density. We examine where our sales model is in demand and where we have achieved profitability, and this can be a big problem. We are currently entering the eighth province, Podlaskie, and of course we still have the potential to open new ground in this area.
What regions are you currently targeting in Poland? Only small towns participate?
We mainly consider small towns with a population of up to 20,000 and, above all, their surroundings. The cradle of our business is the regions of Zamość and Lublin. We operate in rural areas with low concentration of buildings and population density. We use statistical tools and data from the Central Statistics Office to create routes and select the location of our activities. We also check the location in terms of purchasing power, store density per capita or municipality, and much more. This is where the optimal regions for network development come from. It turns out that consumers themselves call us to inform us about the closure of local stores and ask to add the city to the route. Only if we have a car nearby, of course, we agree to such requests.
To sum up – the farther away the brick shop is, the less dense the population, the more important the area is for us, because it shows that the people living there need a shop like a wheeled abc.
You operate on the basis of an agency system. What does cooperation with you look like?
The agency model is based on the Agent providing goods sales services on our behalf. We own the car and the goods on the car, as well as all the equipment – cash register, laptop, telephone and other equipment. Therefore, the agent may focus primarily on sales, maintenance, warehouse control, and store maintenance. In the case of the agent, the investment is minimal, as it is a deposit of 3.5 thousand PLN. There is no need to invest in anything else, the rest is on our side. The same goes for assortment support, marketing and field operations – it’s both a task for the network.
What business partners are you looking for?
The agency system itself requires candidates to have their own businesses, but we are also open to people who need to set up a business to work with us. Of course, we support future Agents in this process.
Our candidates have experience in a variety of industries – from food industry workers to salespeople, drivers, and former business owners. The most important thing for us is the desire to work and the ability to organize it well. An important requirement, of course, is a category B driver’s license. Everything else is on our side – we will prepare the candidate and prepare for this job.
The process of checking the candidate itself is very efficient. We check the official issues and then invite you to a few days of training, during which the Agent learns how to use the sales system and everything that can be useful to him in the management of the mobile store. Then the route is selected and the candidate starts working. Of course, he is always in touch with us. We provide him with operational and assortment support. We do everything we can to make our business attractive and sales as high as possible.
What does the stock of mobile stores look like and what assortments are there?
We mainly use Cash & Carry wholesale companies belonging to Eurocash Group. We also buy directly from local suppliers – they are responsible for cold cuts and meat, as well as bread and cakes. The freshness of our products is the key for us.
Like stationary stores, our stores are equipped with efficient refrigerated warehouses. They carry dairy products, cold meats and even frozen foods. The range of abc stores on wheels is wide, because we offer not only basic and food products, but also chemicals and cosmetics, as well as the opportunity to charge the phone. This allows customers of the network to make convenient and comprehensive shopping.
Interviewer: Katarzyna Łabuz