With more than 50 percent of Romanians population now connected to the Internet, and the country boasting one of the fastest average Internet speeds in the world, online retail has blossomed over the past couple years. E-tailer concern over slow growth in 2013 should be taken with a grain of salt, as they’ve become accustomed to double-digit growth.
The growth has taken place despite the fact that logistics facilities specifically designed to support the industry are poorly suited to the uses of e-tailers, having been designed rather generically.
Given this undersupply, Razvan Iorgu, Managing Director at CBRE Romania, says the demand for specialist logistics buildings will grow
“both at the larger end of the size spectrum and on a smaller scale, closer to the final point of consumption.”
Iorgu says such logistics facilities are unique in terms of their labor requirements, proximity to multiple delivery destinations, process capability and their ability to integrate with parcel delivery networks. “Online retailing creates a need for logistics networks and buildings to accommodate a different and more fluid set of demands,” he says.
“Supply chains may take a variety of forms due to multiple destination points. Customer demands for a higher quality delivery experience‘ are driving change and are a major differentiator for retailers. This raises the need for highly flexible networks including smaller delivery depots and cross-dock facilities close to major population centers,” Iorgu says.
But e-tailing is still a young industry, and the real estate that’s supporting it is mostly still on the drawing board. One of the few e-tailers which has chosen to base itself in a logistics park is eMAG.ro. In 2011, it began with 4,600 sqm of space at Cefin, an industrial park to the west of Bucharest. It then tripled the size of its facility last year in two stages (first by 4,200 sqm and then added an additional 4,750 sqm) to prepare for Black Friday, the busiest day of the year for e-tailers which takes place in November.
The move was justified when the company recorded 77.8 percent of its 2012 growth on that day. “eMAG’s sales were three times better last year than the electro-IT market average,” Iulian Stanciu, General Manager at eMAG, says. “While the market‘s year-on-year growth was 4.5 percent in 2012, our sales increased by 14 percent.” Stanciu estimates the general market will see similar levels of growth this year.
For CEL.ro, another prominent e-tailer, last year began more positively than this one has. “Our orders doubled in 2012 compared to 2011, while our turnover increased by 70 percent, from €11.7m in 2011 to €20m last year,” says Tiberiu Pop, Corsar Online‘s (CEL.ro) manager. “Unfortunately, consumption has decreased 20 percent across the entire market this year. We expected the first three months to bring month-on-month growth, as in previous years, but the reality was completely different.” Despite that, Pop is estimating a “modest” increase in sales of 10 to 20 percent compared to 2012. CEL.ro’s storage is located entirely in western Bucharest in a former garment factory.
“Based on the calculations we’ve made, we would have expected to expand our storage space this year but as the market situation is not very good, I have delayed making a decision until things get back to normal,” Pop says.
evoMAG.ro has also placed its expansion plans on standby and claims the key to its success is its warehouse space strategically located in central Bucharest, says Mihai Patrascu, CEO at evoMAG.ro. The e-tailer’s sales increased last year by 37 percent compared to 2011 and expects a similar results this year.
Even Romania‘s hypermarkets are getting into the game. Cora has coradigital.ro, for IT products and electronic home appliances, while Metro runs its own online shop. More recently, Carrefour launched Carrefour-online.ro in April, but this is only serving Bucharest and its outskirts for the time being.
“It’s an additional service, meant to make our clients’ lives easier,” says Andreea Mihai, Marketing Manager at Carrefour.