Studenac, Croatia’s largest grocery chain by store count, sees the potential to open 2,500 additional outlets nationwide under its proximity format.
Studenac expects to add 120 stores to its network by the end of this year and accelerate the pace of expansion in 2024 and beyond.
Since its acquisition by Central European private-equity fund Enterprise Investors five years ago, Studenac has tripled its retail network to more than 1,200 stores.
The company plans to leverage technology and data to boost profitability and accelerate growth.
Studenac has rolled out various digital tools that use data to improve margins, streamline the supply chain, and enable better and faster decisions about where to build new outlets.
For example, the Location Analysis Tool (LAT) helps managers select new store locations. It uses data on demographics, transport links, and the presence of competitors to identify potential locations.
According to the retailer, through the use of algorithms, this simplifies the decision-making process, speeding up the approval and opening of new stores.
“With this pace of growth, the manual location selection process we used in the past was simply too slow to keep up with,” commented CIO Nina Mimica.
Automation For Logistics
Studenac is also embracing automation to support its logistics processes, with a tool that helps store managers decide which products to order each day, based on factors including sales trends, promotions, inventory constraints, and weather forecasts.
By the end of the year, around 410 stores will be using the system, which was initially introduced in 110 stores. The initial results show a greater availability of products, with fewer cases of stock shortages and less excess stock, the retailer stated.
Studenac has also partnered with Croatian cloud communications platform Infobip in using WhatsApp to engage in conversations with customers and share details, such as store hours and product availability.
Recently, Studenac was recognised as ‘Highly Commended’ at the global RTIH Innovation Awards, beating major players like Nordstrom and Puma for retail innovation in the ‘Rest of the World’ category.
The retailer’s data-driven approach impressed judges, with projects like Solvoyo and the WhatsApp customer service function proving its commitment to innovation.