Onder Oguzhan, Teknosa: Interest in innovation in Turkey is high regardless of age or region - Information portal

Onder Oguzhan, Teknosa: Interest in innovation in Turkey is high regardless of age or region

16 Марта 2021, 10:35

Onder Oguzhan, Teknosa: Interest in innovation in Turkey is high regardless of age or region

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One of the participants in the Beyond Tomorrow conference, organized by SAS, was Onder Oguzhan, Chief Marketing & Technology Officer of Teknosa, the leading technology retailer in Turkey, with whom we talked about digitalization trends, the readiness of retailers and logistics companies to work in the new environment, as well as Teknosa’s digitalization efforts and customer experience improvement projects.

Retail & Loyalty: Last spring, the Turkish government announced its support for the digital transformation aspirations of Turkish companies. How do you generally assess the level of digitalization of the country's economy and the level of digitalization of retail in general?

Onder Oguzhan: From the point of view of culture and mentality, the population of the country is absolutely open to the use of innovative technologies, ready for digital transformation and infrastructure – in recent years, the Turkish government has actively invested in the development of 4G and fiber-optic communications. The result is obvious – today more than 77 million people use mobile communication and have access to the Internet-despite the fact that the country's population is slightly more than 80 million people. This means that more than 90% of citizens are Internet users and at least half of them use fiber-optic communication services.

In addition, activity in social networks is growing rapidly – now almost all smartphone owners, including representatives of the older generation, are active users of them.

Thus, today our country is at the stage of active development of new tools and communication channels. And in general, the infrastructure of Turkey is fully ready for digital transformation, moreover, it has successfully passed the test of the pandemic – all industries managed to cope with the situation, quickly enabled employees to work remotely, while-most importantly-all systems have withstood the additional load.

Retailers have also coped with new challenges and continue to develop new digital services, such as, web chats, video chats, through which the buyer can get all the information they are interested in through video connections to sales consultants at store and then order the product online. Fashion retailers, for example, during this period mastered a new interesting technology – the ability to try on products online, without having to come to the store, where the risk of infection is high.

Retail & Loyalty: How easy was the transition to the new reality for your company?

Onder Oguzhan: Over the year, we have made significant progress in using new channels and scenarios for interaction with customers and in the digitalization of many of our processes.

The vast majority of retail sales in Turkey are carried out in offline retail outlets. Before the pandemic, online channels generated a maximum of 6-7% of retailers' revenues. With the outbreak of the pandemic, when most of the stores were closed, many retailers were not completely prepared for online sales. However, they managed to restructure their business processes in the shortest possible time and establish successful online sales channels. During the first month, the share of online revenues increased from 6-7% to 10%, and over the entire time of the pandemic, the online sales segment grew by 60-70%.

Teknosa's online sales in 2020 increased 256% compared to 2019, and now online share accounts for about 19% of our retail revenue.

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Retail & Loyalty: And was the logistics infrastructure ready for such a hike in online sales?

Onder Oguzhan: Cargo transportation turned out to be one of the weak links in all processes. First of all, the time spent in transit has seriously increased. Overall transportation transit times have improved and returned to normal in about two months, however, in my opinion, many elements of the logistics processes still need to be adjusted and improved. This problem is partially solved by the entry of new players into the market, which are helping to close a serious gap between supply and demand.

However, the freight and transport companies, eventually delivered the goods to the customers with a delay, the lack of information on the progress of delivery particularly caused strong customer dissatisfaction. By and large, here we are talking about the lack of full data integration between retailers and delivery companies, which may be the rootcauseof the lack of transparency in the process. Transparency and promptness of information provided to the client about a change in the status of a shipment - “in transit”, “scheduled for delivery”, etc., need to be improved accordingly.

Also, for the sustained development of e-commerce, we do not have enough storage facilities, and require serious optimization of the transportation infrastructure. There is still a lot of work to be done in these areas.

Since the spring of 2020, the volume of e-commerce has grown 2-3 times, during this time logistics companies, of course, managed to adapt to the new pace of work, but now it is time we focus on technological issues mentioned above.

Retail & Loyalty: What are the most impressive changes in consumer behavior that you could point to?

Onder Oguzhan: Customer behavior in our segment has undergone major changes. With the outbreak of the pandemic, technology products turned out to fundamental necessisty for many people. The demand for TVs, PCs tablets, smartphones and accessories considerably increased. People no longer needed the same amount of office clothes, formal suits, etc and they started spending on durable goods such as electronics and furnitureSome changes are also observed in grocery retail - customers began to visit stores much less frequently, while the volume of one-time purchases increased significantly.

Retail & Loyalty: What areas did you focus on during the pandemic?

Onder Oguzhan: First of all, we focused on the implementation of contactless payment technologies, as well as the development of various customer communication channels - for example, our customers can get advice and information through new electronic channels including WhatsApp, Web-chat and Video Chat.

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Our next priority has been the faster delivery of orders. During this period, we begansame day deliveryservice to more than 40 cities.

In addition, we have turned some of our retail stores into warehouses (also called dark stores), thereby getting orders shipped as fast as possible to our customers. We also started providing click and drive service, that allows customer to get the order delivered to his/her car without entering the shopping mall or the store– our employees take the goods directly to his/her car.

Retail & Loyalty: What technologies are currently relevant for offline stores?

Onder Oguzhan: We are currently testing a handheld mobile terminal, through which our sales agents can see prices, check inventory and even make a sale directly from the device without going to a cashier. This pilot project is currently tested in two stores, and we plan to extend this capability to the entire chain by the end of the year.

Retail & Loyalty: What developments are underway for the e-commerce direction?

Onder Oguzhan: According tour own research, over 80% of customers start exploring our products online . We plan to improve base functions of our website such as search, pdp, comparison, and payment. We aim to redesign ecommerce experience using latest UX/UI principles. Another important priority is to make delivery and return processes to be more transparent and easy to use for our customers.

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Retail & Loyalty: What is the special feature of your customer loyalty program, are you planning to update it this year?

Onder Oguzhan: We plan to launch a new loyalty program within the first half of 2021 and we will focus on improving our analytical capabilities to better target our customers. Information collected from our customers as part of the loyalty program, will help us offer custom services such as VIP service, free delivery, prioritized customer service calls, etc.

In addition, we currently new technologies for timelier communication with customers inside the store. For example, by connecting to our free Wi-Fi network, customers receive custom messages and product offers. By tracking his/her movements around the store, we will be able to determine which product categories customer is most interested in and, based on this, we can prepare even more targeted offers.

In the future, we plan to consolidate our customers' behavior based data from all channels and merge with unstructured data..

Retail & Loyalty: If you now assess your level of knowledge about the client on a 10-point scale, what rating will you give yourself? And how quickly can you reach the top scores?

Onder Oguzhan: Currently, we are above industry standards. We have 17.5 million customer data recorded in our system. In addition, we continue our efforts to enrich customer data and to use it effectively in all channels. With our new loyalty program in 2021, we will be at at a much better level in providing more personalized experience to our customers.

Retail & Loyalty: There is an opinion that in Russia, innovative solutions are popular only in cities with millions of people, although with the start of the pandemic, online commerce has become relevant for smaller communities as well. Given that Turkey has a younger population, how much interest is there in technology nationwide?

Onder Oguzhan: Digital technology is indeed increasingly entering into our lives, and more and more people are beginning to use digital channels for communication as well as for education, shopping, work, and so on. And, as far as I can see, in Turkey this trend is completely independent of region or age group. The total number of online purchases is higher in large cities, but solely due to the density of population.

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Retail & Loyalty: Do you have sales similar to our "Black Friday", Cyber Monday, etc.?

Onder Oguzhan: We have large scale sales on some special days such as Black Friday so called Techno Friday in our company, New Year, Valentine's Day, Mother’s Day, Father's Day etc., that is, we use every opportunity to intensify interaction with customers.

Retail & Loyalty: In Russia last year, many companies were disappointed with the results of the sales. How did they go in your company?

Onder Oguzhan: At Teknosa, sales volumes were about 30% higher than the last year. Thanks to our resilient and customer-focused roadmap that we created in line with ‘Teknosa of New Generation’ vision, Teknosa achieved the best performance of all times. The pandemic rendered technology an irreplaceable need and we made use of the opportunities brought along by this fact in the best possible way for all our stakeholders. We reached our target of sustainable growth and profitability during this tough period.

Retail & Loyalty: In conclusion, how difficult is it in general to implement digital technologies in Turkey, where people are naturally very sociable and prone to personal communications?

Onder Oguzhan: For many folks, the transition to remote working was very difficult. Now I can easily say that we all are accustomed to work remotely and country as a whole has successfully passed the test. I believe many corporations are ready and willing to continue working with this new model.

At the beginning of December 2020, the strict confinement regulations resumed in Turkey, and, possibly, after this is over, many "quarantine" induced habits will remain with us. Despite the fact that 25 million people, i.e. almost half of the country's working population, are under 30 years old, many initially showed dissatisfaction with the imposed restrictions. I think they are certainly used to this new way of life and have adjusted to remote working, online shopping, etc. Many companies have already decided to maintain remote working as the permanent model even after all restrictions removed, because they observed higher productivity levels with employees working from home.

Additionally, I believe thanks to online technologies, and remote working modelemployers are not bound by geographical barriers and have the opportunity to attract highly qualified technologists, analytics specialists from all over the world.

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