Ek-Chai allots B3bn for new store format

Ek-Chai allots B3bn for new store format

Operator focuses on e-commerce channel

Mr Sompong delivers a presentation on the evolution of modern retail in Thailand at a press conference on Wednesday.
Mr Sompong delivers a presentation on the evolution of modern retail in Thailand at a press conference on Wednesday.

Ek-Chai Distribution System Co, the operator of Lotus's retail stores, looks set to allocate 3 billion baht to open its next-generation stores over the next three years.

Sompong Rungnirattisai, the company's chief executive, said the budget will be used to transform 146 shopping malls and stores into next-generation stores under the New SMART Retail concept, with the aim to propel e-commerce to contribute 20% of the company's total sales in three years, up from 5%.

During the three-year period, the company also plans to develop another 150 mini-supermarkets. Each project requires an investment of 8 million baht.

As of June 30, Lotus's operates 2,597 stores (224 hypermarkets, 202 supermarkets and 2,171 mini supermarkets).

"Our online shopping platform will also continue to improve, with new technology that will allow Lotus's to handle exponential growth. Artificial intelligence is used to enhance data analytics to generate truly personalised offerings to individual customers," he said.

Lotus's has been at the forefront of the evolution of modern retail in Thailand, starting with retail 1.0 with the opening of big box stores for the first time in Thailand under Lotus Supercenter in 1994.

Under the retail 2.0 era, it added shopping malls to its hypermarkets to offer customers more holistic shopping and lifestyle experiences, and also introduced other retail formats in addition to big box stores.

With the rise of e-commerce that came with retail 3.0, Lotus's become the first supermarket operator in the country to launch its own online shopping platform that allowed customers to place orders for a wide variety of products.

In the retail 4.0 era, omnichannel became the essence and Lotus's introduced its SMART App in March 2022, capitalising on the power of an e-commerce platform.

"As we embark on our 29th year of operation and beyond, we strive to lead the retail 5.0 age of New SMART Retail by opening next-generation stores to cater to the lifestyles and needs of customers in each location," said Mr Sompong.

In addition, the company will cater to emerging trends and lifestyles, as well as specific needs of customers by providing more premium products and imported products at some locations.

"No two Lotus's stores are the same, with each one offering a tailored product assortment for the customer demographics," he said.

Mr Sompong said the company will create new products under Lotus's private label brands, boosting the contribution of private label products to 30% of the company's total sales, up from the current 20%.

"Sustainability underpins our business plan as a leader of the New SMART Retail concept. Our 'Vision 2030. Actions every day' strategy will focus on four topics that are crucial to our omnichannel retail business, namely health and well-being, social impact and economic contribution, circular economy, and climate resilience," he said.

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