Wednesday, 12 June 2024
Studenac Harnesses Digital Innovation to Drive Profitability and Expand Store Network Rapidly Studenac

Studenac Harnesses Digital Innovation to Drive Profitability and Expand Store Network Rapidly

Written by  Dec 14, 2023

Studenac, Croatia’s largest retailer by number of stores, is boosting profitability and accelerating growth with a series of digital tools that use data to improve margins, streamline the supply chain and enable better, faster decisions on where to build new outlets.

The Location Analysis Tool (LAT), the flagship project from the Studenac Digital center of excellence, helps managers select new store locations based on data including demographics, transportation links and the presence of competitors in any given geographical area. The LAT uses algorithms to help select high-potential locations, streamlining the investment committee's decision-making process and accelerating the pace at which new stores can be approved and opened.

The company sees room to open as many as 2,500 new outlets across the country using its unique proximity format. Studenac has tripled its store network to more than 1,200 since it was acquired five years ago by leading Central European private equity fund Enterprise Investors. It plans to add 120 stores organically this year and speed up the pace in 2024 and beyond.

“With this pace of growth, the manual process of site selection that we used in the past was just too slow to keep up,” said Chief Innovation Officer Nina Mimica. “The managers in charge of our expansion drive needed a faster way to examine hundreds of potential store locations every month – a solution with precision, speed and scalability. By implementing the LAT, we give them a way to ensure they’re choosing the optimal mix of new store sites.”

Advanced analytics tools being implemented by Studenac Digital are bolstering profitability by fine-tuning pricing and promotions. The company is also embracing automation to support its logistics processes, with a tool that helps store managers decide what products to order each day based on factors including sales trends, promotions, warehouse constraints and weather forecasts. The system was rolled out to 110 stores by mid-November, and a total of 410 will be using it by the end of the year. Initial results show higher product availability, with fewer instances of running out of stock and less excess stock.

Croatian unicorn

Studenac Digital is collaborating with Infobip, Croatia’s first tech unicorn and a global leader in omnichannel conversational messaging. The retailer is using WhatsApp for customer conversations, providing information such as store opening hours and product availability. During the 2023 summer travel season, as millions of tourists from across Europe flocked to Croatia’s Adriatic beaches, the app available in English, German and Italian communicated with phone numbers from 47 countries.

“We’re continuing to broaden and deepen our partnership with Infobip to build digital omnichannel communication solutions,” Mimica said. “Our teams are learning from each other, developing new functionality from scratch based on the needs of customers at our unique proximity format stores. We have a roadmap of use cases for next year and plan to roll out new features including an intelligent bot, weekly reminders for frequently purchased items, a WhatsApp assistant for onboarding new users and a recruitment chatbot.”

Studenac established the Studenac Digital center of excellence in late 2022, employing data scientists and data engineers. The unit aims to support Studenac in its mission to become more agile and efficient, as like other European retailers it squares up to challenges including inflation, more diverse consumer preferences and shoppers’ greater focus on health, premium offers and sustainability.


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