Operations

From fashion to grocery: How Miniprix reinvented their retail in one week

Andreea Pop
Andreea Pop July 21, 2020
From fashion to grocery: How Miniprix reinvented their retail in one week

In the age of coronavirus, fashion took a step back – and fashion retailers took a hit. Miniprix, a Romanian fashion retailer and VTEX’s first client in the country, is no exception. After signing with VTEX in 2017 and registering a €10M revenue in 2018, 2020 had them on the brink of closure. Yet their own resilience, coupled with VTEX’s capabilities, allowed them to survive and, unexpectedly, to grow by combining fashion retail with grocery.

Miniprix 101: Fashion Retail Only?

Miniprix is a Romanian fashion retailer aiming to add new standards to the fashion industry: more relaxed, more diverse, and more dynamic. Miniprix is regarded as the most popular off-price concept in Romania – they have run stores in Bucharest since 1999 and are proud to be both a family business and one of the city’s “urban legends”. They have never expanded outside the capital area, despite having plenty of opportunities, because they wanted to have full control over their operations and ideas.

The company sells a variety of well-known international or less-known local brands in a unique blend of high-quality products at amazing values. They have run a successful ecommerce site since 2009, delivering a “value for money” shopping experience all around Romania by managing their own logistics and fulfillment center just a few minutes away from the Otopeni International Airport. 

Need for Speed

In the middle of March 2020, anticipating a national lockdown due to COVID-19, Miniprix temporarily shut down all of its 4 brick-and-mortar stores. This was incredibly challenging, as their online sales were only 25% of their total sales. What is more, all fashion retail had suffered a hit, because clients were not particularly interested in spending money on clothes in those “unprecedented times”. As a result, Miniprix were very close to laying off their 240 employees.

Thankfully, governmental support gave them enough of a reprieve to find alternatives. They noticed two very important aspects they could leverage from: fear of in-person shopping was running rampant, and there was great uncertainty about the online availability of grocery items. An opportunity to mix fashion and grocery retail showed itself, but it required momentum. 

Miniprix needed to act quickly. As such, they decided it was high time to turn one of their previous initiatives into reality – the Minimarket. Having plenty of access to local suppliers, they realised they could serve their clients and their community better while also maintaining their business afloat. Because it was their lifeboat, Miniprix internally named the Minimarket their (Noah’s) Ark. It went live in one week.

“We always had many plans and ideas for our online operations, but we tended to leave them on stand-by. This time is different. We’re committed to focusing more on digital and exploring VTEX’s capabilities.”

Anca Bahna, Miniprix Chief Operations Manager

Miniprix’s Grocery and Fashion Retail Ark riding the COVID-19 tsunami

It was an easy and seamless launch, one in which Miniprix took full advantage of the VTEX Commerce Platform’s flexibility. Their prior knowledge of its capabilities helped immensely – the VTEX team assisted minimally, because implementing the Minimarket was akin to simply adding new products. Their Minimarket gradually offered bakery products, cleaning products, non-perishable food and, later on, fresh food. For the latter, they desired to offer fresh ingredients to Bucharest residents in bi-weekly “combo boxes” sourced directly from local farmers.

Although the project was highly ambitious and complex due to logistics, it was able to function properly due to VTEX’s capabilities. Miniprix had to segment Delivery, Payment, and Catalogue availability based on the product type and the customer’s geolocation. For instance, fresh food needed to be shown only to customers from Bucharest and its surroundings, on top of being a card-only transaction with a specific delivery option. 

When choosing VTEX back in 2017, Miniprix wanted to use SaaS and to have an evolving platform that is continuously updated, scalable and truly multi-tenant. These aspects paid off tenfold now, as Miniprix managed to be proactive and to pursue their plans unabated, benefitting from highly-flexible technology and quick implementation.

“Miniprix is very atypical. Unlike many companies, they did not wait to see how the situation unfolded – they are super dynamic and they’ve accelerated towards a new direction exactly when they needed to, successfully reinventing themselves once again.”

Cristi Movilă, VTEX Romania Country Manager

Time to Revenue the Future of Retail

Now that lockdowns are steadily easing, Miniprix has been able to re-open their stores. However, they have chosen to permanently close down two of them. The reason? Focusing on digital. 

Encouraged by their recent success in combining fashion and grocery retail and excited about the possibilities enabled by VTEX, Miniprix has many projects in mind for the near future. They are eager to add new product lines, to experiment more with other features, to create a Marketplace environment that supports dropshipping, and to improve their B2B model. Continuing their interest in sustainable retail and circular economy, they hope to offer their customers the option to swap items amongst themselves. They also wish to bring back their clothes donating app – prior to COVID-19, it enabled the delivery of over 1500 parcels from their customers to the Social Services. Moreover, they are opening a physical store in India, where they already have an operational partner.

Throughout these changing times, the Romanian VTEX team is always a call away. They provide advice on business growth strategies and assistance in Miniprix’s current transition to the VTEX IO. Gone are the days when Miniprix were alone in their struggles, burdened with the continuous implementation of new functionalities – since 2017, VTEX has made their lives much easier.

“We feel relaxed. Having VTEX as a partner is a great advantage for our projects. We have lots of work to do, but there is no more stress – someone else does the heavy-lifting for us.”

Anca Bahna, Miniprix Chief Operations Manager

Nonetheless, regardless of how the commercial climate develops, one thing remains: Miniprix will always benefit from a short time to revenue courtesy of VTEX. Access our website to discover how you could gain the same opportunities.

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