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Company evolution
Compared to 2011, when we started, Eco-Shop is completely different. Firstly, our stores have become more beautiful. Secondly, the range has expanded significantly.

We started from 150 positions, and now they are 1.5–2.5 thousand, depending on the size of the store. We used to be more like a dairy store, but now we have a confectionery group, vegetables and fruits, freezing, groceries, cosmetics, and home care products.

In my opinion, Eco-Shop has become successful because:

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The market was relatively free, and Eco-Shop was one of the first system companies in its niche. There were several potentially similar projects, but they were transformed or closed.

Franchising was actively developing – at the start there was no money for scaling. Therefore, franchising has become the only way to grow and create a global brand. The first franchise store we sold in 2012.

Fakapy at the start
All our mistakes taught us something. Thanks to them, we became stronger in new steps.

Now I would carefully select franchising partners. It is necessary not only to find a good place for a store, but to choose the right person who will deal with it.

Franchisees should understand franchising not as an “investment”, but as a business. Many people think that it is enough to invest in a franchise, to appoint a manager – and that’s all, you can get money.

Interview with the co-owner of the chain of organic food stores “Eco-shop”. 1

But it doesn’t work like that.

When you communicate with the owner and he is competent in any matter, it is clear that he is burning his own business. If you hear: “I am not doing this, call my consultant,” there will be nothing good.

Now we have about 95 stores in Ukraine, and for eight years we have closed about 60. Not always the reason was that the store became unprofitable. It used to be that our rent was simply not extended, franchisees divorced and divided the business or emigrated.

Now we have more and more franchisee partners. Those who are weaker leave the market. Those who are stronger increase their momentum and try to open one more of our stores.

The difficulty of working with suppliers
It seems that everything is simple: brought the goods, put on a shelf and sold. So it looks from the outside, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Inside is a complex chain where an unpredictable human factor can always play.

If it gets clogged up somewhere, it will be reflected at all stages. Therefore, it is important to work out all the technical nuances: how to pay, how to conduct a product, how to accept it, how to be responsible for quality. If you configure this, there will be no problems.

When the supplier hears that we have about a hundred stores, he thinks: “Oh, class, now I’ll go there and you can relax.” But it does not take into account that the buyer may not like his product. Or for him is not the time.

Once upon a time there was almost no demand for vegetarian products. We thought that this niche will always be weak, so the vegetarian line has almost left the Eco-Shop. Over time, the trend gained momentum, and products that we no longer “believed in” started to sell well.

Interview with the co-owner of the chain of organic food stores “Eco-shop”. 2

It was the other way around. A manufacturer came with a cool product, everyone loved him. But six months later they stopped buying. The product was tired, more interesting analogues appeared or the competitor did the same, but cheaper.

The market is very toned, the competition is fierce, because new formats and ideas are growing. The client benefits from this, but businesses that are not ready to transform quickly lose.

Even if you are great today, it’s not a fact that you can withstand competition over the next years. Neither the retailer, nor the manufacturer, nor the franchisee can relax.

Rules for working with customers
For example, in a store sausage has deteriorated. The culprit may be:

consultant – unloaded too quickly, did not put in the refrigerator

logistician – transported sloppy or in the wrong temperature regime

manufacturer – stored or shipped incorrectly

If we or the supplier offended the consumer with something, we need to do everything so that the person stays with us anyway. Customer opinion – in the first place. If such situations arise, we solve them without leaving the cash register. We negotiate, apologize, and compensate.

But not all claims are well-founded. Sometimes a client tried to discredit us and organized terror. As a rule, these are the machinations of competitors who tried to disrupt our work.

It is important to remember that hype is fueled by attention. The best tactic in this case is not to respond to overt attacks.

We want the “Eco-shop” atmosphere of service to prevail – it’s important for us not to be a soulless store. Our philosophy is based on the right service and “customer development” – we explain to the buyer what to look for when choosing a product, and select alternatives.

How the market and Eco-Shop formats have changed
“Eco-shop” – on the wave of trends. Change your consumer does not make sense, you need to change with him. You must follow what he wants, and not transform the market for yourself – this is almost unrealistic.

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