Swift (JBS) and the omnichannel challenges in the frozen food industry
Swift is a pioneer in creating quality processes for deep-freezing perishable foods. The company also encourages the development of its entire chain, such as its logistics partners.
Swift is a business unit of JBS, and its purpose is to transform the way people buy and consume protein around the globe. Known as an O2O (online-to-offline) retail, it was born with an omnichannel strategy and has been expanding its physical stores’ operations.
A VTEX client since early 2017, the brand currently has 400 physical stores in Brazil. With new investments in ecommerce and a more aggressive strategy to expand physical stores, Swift has multiplied its growth by 8 since the beginning of 2019.
The stores offer more than 400 products, including beef for daily use and barbecue, certified sustainable seafood, pork, lamb, poultry, snacks, side dishes, vegetables, desserts, barbecue spices, and much more.
Obsessed with improving the experience of its customers’ journey, the brand’s focus is precisely on new consumer habits. It is an innovative and practical proposal dedicated to people who no longer want to go to a butcher shop, talk to a butcher, or choose among several ready-made trays in a supermarket freezer.
“Working with fresh or deep-frozen products has particularities and relevant challenges that must be taken into consideration every day for building a better customer journey. It is very different, for example, from clothing, shoes, electronics, and other non-perishable items. And Swift, supported by VTEX, is undoubtedly pioneering this operation of excellence in ecommerce and the physical world for this microsegment.”Eduardo Varela, Success Account Director at VTEX
In the case of Brazil, it is a big, highly complex challenge, especially concerning logistics, costs, quality, and expected service level, given the country’s size.
Expanding this vision to the global operation, Swift’s great ambition is to meet the challenges of selling deep-frozen items remotely and delivering them to the customer’s home at the proper temperature while maintaining the food’s characteristics.
“Regarding product quality, it is indisputable that we have managed to maintain a high standard of excellence in taste and texture. This quality, combined with a good experience in all our channels, makes our customer a brand advocate and, in addition, we have recorded a high repurchase rate, which further qualifies our business model and purpose.”Luis Souza, Head of Ecommerce & Digital at Swift
Besides constantly working to improve the consumer journey and offer a unique and excellent experience in all channels, Swift measures customer satisfaction using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system. By listening to its customers, the company can guide its actions to improve further each step of the shopping process across all integrated channels:
- Customer service via WhatsApp;
- Store in Store — stores operating within retailer partner stores;
- New digital stores in a partner ecommerce, such as GPA and Carrefour — it is a different concept from the marketplace since the partner runs the operation, and Swift is only responsible for the portfolio and price management;
- Pop-up shops on wheels — special vans serving condominiums in São Paulo and other states, which is convenient to customers and promote the first contact of the brand with many of them.
Operations and the support of technology
To provide excellence in its delivery services, besides having a Distribution Center (DC) dedicated to the ecommerce operation, which covers half of the total sales volume, Swift delivers to several regions where it has physical stores, using the ship-from-store model and semi-dedicated logistics partners. In addition, the brand provides more convenience to its customers by offering the option to pick up in store, the so-called Click and Pickup.
“Our delivery scheme relies mainly on motorcycle couriers to guarantee the speed and, to maintain the quality of our service, we have a special packaging, which keeps the food properly stored and preserved. However, we see many opportunities for development in the area, as there are only a limited number of partner companies focused on frozen logistics. Looking at the market as a whole, this industry is less developed and, consequently, offers opportunities.”Luis Souza, Head of Ecommerce & Digital at Swift
The executive also reminds that, in the United States, Swift’s operation occurs more fluidly, as they can count on more partners and the logistics structure is more developed. In general, it is possible to make fast and cost-effective deliveries in any state in the US.
Currently, the brand is already reaping the results of its global expansion project, with structured operations in the USA, Mexico, China, and, soon, Canada.
Integrated inventory and smart fulfillment solutions
In the Brazilian market, currently, Swift offers two types of delivery. One is the same-day delivery and, in many cases, the delivery occurs in up to two hours. The other is planned delivery, which allows customers to have a more personalized experience and schedule the day and time they prefer to receive their order.
The operation as a whole has become very smart, as all orders directed to the stores are completed by their local team. The fulfillment is agile and based on the VTEX platform, which allows you to manage and track orders until they are delivered.
“When clients click to buy their first product in Swift’s ecommerce or app, it is required to enter their zip code. This automated step for regionalization identifies which inventories can serve them, whether from stores or the DC. The unified inventory management ensures a seamless buying journey and the stability of Swift’s operation.”Eduardo Varela, Success Account Director at VTEX
As a result, physical stores’ staff have gained even more relevance in the business since they are responsible for receiving orders, selecting items, performing the packaging and labeling steps, and making orders available for pickup or shipping. This operation is also known as Picking and Packing.
“VTEX and all the ready-to-use omnichannel intelligence are key to helping us manage inventory and orders. When a customer accesses the website to select products, the platform automatically displays the shipping options according to stock availability. The customer just needs to select either fast delivery — the order will be fulfilled by the nearest store —, or planned delivery — the order will be fulfilled by the DC.”Luis Souza, Head of Ecommerce & Digital at Swift
Swift’s ideal strategy was to have a Distribution Center dedicated to ecommerce in São Paulo, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. The brand experienced a boom in online orders due to the pandemic, so the depth of inventory provided by the DC was essential to maintain delivery and quality levels. The main result that corroborates the strategy was the total stability of operations — DC and stores — throughout the pandemic, with no interruptions.
Omnichannel from birth
The scalable business model put in place by Swift, which has always invested in omnichannel shopping, ensures that the new stores are already starting their operations in this format. Besides, it means they are ready to receive and fulfill orders from both ecommerce and the app.
“This means that every new store is systematically ready, as well as its team, in a culture already established and understood by the entire network of stores and professionals. Therefore, the omnichannel model allows opening new stores in an omnichannel operation, as a mini DC.”Luis Souza, Head of Ecommerce & Digital at Swift
To do so, the brand invests in a robust recruitment and selection process so that all new employees receive proper training to work in the deep-frozen product industry, following health and hygiene procedures. The training also includes commercial and technological skills to put the omnichannel model into practice throughout the chain.
The brand’s next steps are to start online sales in Rio de Janeiro, then broaden its reach to other states, and expand the operation of ready-made meals and craft food. All these initiatives are focused on providing greater convenience for the new times and excellence in customer service.
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