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São Paulo - Once considered a deadly threat, e-commerce is gradually becoming an opportunity for Brazilian shopping centers. Brazil's leading networks are setting up their own marketplaces and organizing logistics to encourage their shopkeepers to do what was previously scorned: selling online.
In this new strategy, the malls are leveraging one of their main assets: their prime location, which allows them to get ahead in the fast delivery run. In addition to the logistical arrangements that are being put in place now, some malls think that reducing the flow of parking lots (through shared transport) will make it possible to transform the vacant spaces into warehouses and lease them to large companies in the medium and long term.
One of the first entrepreneurs trying to turn the "problem" that e-commerce created for opportunity malls was Andreas Blazoudakis, one of the founders of iFood. Andreas' solution was the Delivery Center, a delivery platform that starts from shopping malls and guarantees same-day deliveries in the region around the enterprise, the so-called "primary zone", in industry jargon.
Launched in November 2016, the operation gained momentum this year when BR Malls, Brazil's largest shopping mall network, bought 45% of the startup. More than the acquisition value, BR Malls will allow Delivery Center to open operations in its more than 40 malls.
So far, only four malls in BR Malls and 11 other network projects are integrated into the platform, which only operates in Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The Delivery Center is expected to earn $ 4 million in December, and expects to add one mall per week in 2019.
The platform begins to lure customers through the mouth: it initially integrates the food courts and then expands the offer of products and services available in the online sale. "Amazon bought Whole Foods why? It's a medium low ticket but with a high recurrence, "says Andreas. "Food is the key, the doorway."
Integrated with iFood and other marketplaces, Delivery Center also has its own application, the "DTudo". The platform charges a 20% fee to do all the service of registering the products, selling online, hiring the logistics and delivering at the consumer's home. The fee goes out of the shopkeeper's margin, and the end consumer pays the same price as if he went to the mall.
Half of the fee is intended to cover delivery costs: Delivery Center operates with its own fleet of about 40 motoboys per mall, making about 80% of deliveries in less than 40 minutes.
At Shopping Tijuca, one of the first BR Malls to be integrated into the platform, restaurant revenue has already increased 17%. For analysts at Bradesco BBI, Delivery Center can increase BR Malls' revenue by 10% over the next four years. "We believe Delivery Center may be larger than iFood," wrote the team led by Luiz Mauricio Garcia in an optimistic report.
Ever since, the main challenge of shopping malls in e-commerce was to be able to monitor the stock of shopkeepers, to know what merchandise is available in each of the stores. Delivery Center solves this in three ways.
In the most basic version, the consumer enters the virtual shop window and checks online if a particular product is available. In a slightly more advanced integration, a part of the inventory is registered on the platform and is "locked" only for the online offer. Already the third integration - considered ideal - is the real-time monitoring of online and physical inventory. Of the 1,000 stores registered in Delivery Center, for the moment only 10 are integrated so, but the idea is to reach 100%.
At JHSF, Shopping Cidade Jardim e-commerce in São Paulo already has the full integration of inventories. It was made possible by an electronic audit tool implemented years earlier to monitor store sales and avoid fraud in the collection of variable rent, which is tied to the retailer's revenue.
Aimed at the very high income public, Cidade Jardim On-line makes same-day deliveries for orders made up to 2:00 pm in the city of São Paulo. Just over 60 days in the air, the site already celebrates some results. The pre-launch of the Italian shoe brand Aquazurra - which had not yet had a store in Brazil - was made three weeks before the store opened, on the online platform. "When the store opened, the goal of the first month of sale had already been beaten," says Thiago Alonso de Oliveira, CEO of JHSF.
The company's next mall - which will open in São Paulo next year - will all be geared towards the omnichannel experience. "The customer can go to the store and see if the clothes fit and then order another color, for same-day delivery, or ask for delivery directly from the site," says Thiago.
With the malls testing the new sales models, the question is whether a resounding success in e-commerce can end up cannibalizing the business, threatening the traffic in the stores. For Ruy Kameyama, CEO of BR Malls, the concern has no basis. "Only 25% of the flow of the malls originates only the intention to buy some specific item," he says. The other 75%, he says, relate to the provision of services, such as restaurants and cinemas.
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