The pandemic has accelerated corporate evolution, with the sale of products directly from the producer to the consumer – hitherto restricted to the primary sector – now infiltrating the consumer goods industry as well.
The producer in this case could even be multinational giants, such as Coca-Cola HBC, whose online platforms allow consumers direct access to their goods without the mediation of wholesale or retail traders.
While suppliers are turning into retailers, supermarkets (which have already become small department stores) are also evolving with small restaurants, banks and even electric vehicle charging stations. The need for service diversification to bolster companies’ response to competition – acknowledged even before the onset of the health crisis – has become even more pressing, as the pandemic has made consumers more reluctant about going out for various products and services, seeking, instead, to find everything they need in one spot.
On the one hand there are companies such as Gefsinous, a Greek firm that before the pandemic was only present in industrial-scale catering, supplying the restaurants of banks, educational institutions and large business groups. Now this company is not only preparing ready meals for a large supermarket chain, but is also approaching consumers directly, entering the market of home delivery.
On the other hand, supermarkets – the big winners of the pandemic, with turnover rising 8.4% this year to early November per Nielsen – are further expanding their range of services, giving themselves an advantage both at this stage and after the pandemic.
Plans for the creation of restaurants in hypermarkets may be on ice for now, but two local chains, MyMarket and Bazaar, will in the next few days launch cash withdrawals at the till, with Bazaar also offering deposits.
Electric mobility is another field of expansion for large retailers, with Thanopoulos and MyMarket having already installed car chargers and AB Vassilopoulos signing a similar deal with Public Power Corporation.
Oil companies, meanwhile, are responding to the drop in fuel sales by expanding the goods sold at gas stations into snacks, toys etc., turning into small supermarkets.