Interview of Display Bulgaria owners in Progressive magazine

Rossitsa Zahova and Dobroslava Mircheva in an interview for Progressive magazine. They tell us about the retail landscape in Bulgaria, where their mission began and the opportunities for development.

Tell us about Display Bulgaria

Dobroslava: Display Bulgaria is our second venture with Rositsa. We had another merchandising company for hire and our work was constantly related to store presence. One autumn morning I walked into a supermarket of a big chain and out of habit I went through all the categories. I’ll never forget standing in front of the refrigerated case of packaged cheese and cottage cheese. The chaos of these products has always annoyed me, but on that particular day it was awful. I realized that with just the manual labor of our people, there could be no efficient maintenance of the regale. We needed a solution that didn’t require so much time, expense, and human labor. Rossi and I decided that we would be the ones to offer it to the Bulgarian market

Thus was born our partnership with HL Display Sweden, a company an absolute innovator in the field of in-store environment. We literally fell in love with the on-shelf merchandising equipment systems and saw the solution we were looking for. We chose each other with and 20 yearswe have been part of the transformation of Bulgarian retail.

What are the challenges for retailers?

Dobroslava: Of course, the challenges are not quite the same for a big chain and a neighborhood supermarket. Yet, all retailers have to operate in a similar environment. This is the rise of online grocery, lack of skilled labour, high energy costs, price competition and market saturation. Amidst this challenging environment is the global dynamics and evolution of technology, which requires speed and a strategic approach.

Rossy: Add to the challenges the modern customer who is informed, hard to trust and very demanding. I, for example, besides being part of Display Bulgaria, am also a housewife who prefers to shop offline. I am demanding about many things – not just prices, promotions or location. Sustainability policy is also important for example. We also talk about convenience, how much hurry I am, what is the attitude of the employees in the store… The decision where to shop one makes on the basis of different requirements, which often seems like a lack of loyalty. This is both a challenge and a great opportunity on the part of retailers to gain the attention of customers..

What can retailers do to overcome them?

Dobroslava: In my opinion, any retail outlet, even the smallest neighborhood store can find its competitive edge. Above all, it is important to have a feeling of personal treatment, a comfortable shopping environment, an atmosphere of trust. It is interesting that in the online environment there is a lot of talk about “user experience” and too rarely is this factor emphasized when talking about physical stores. And there it is by no means less important.

Rossy: In fact, there is a much greater experience in live shopping because the customer has direct contact with the products. This is a big advantage for physical retailing. To take advantage of this fact, retailers need to ensure that the environment is pleasant, orderly, well-lit, labels are consistent, the customer can navigate easily and quickly, staff are knowledgeable and responsive, etc.
While not the only factor, the shopping atmosphere is an essential element both for the greater value of the average purchase and as an ongoing strategy to attract and retain customers. I realize that may sound overwhelming, but on the other hand there are a number of modern solutions that enable retailers to address these challenges with less human labor and even financial resources.

How do you help retailers grow?

Dobroslava: We were the first to introduce shelf stacking and automation equipment in Bulgaria. We realized even then that the cost of maintaining this attractive retail environment with physical labor was too high. We wanted to find solutions that would maximise this objective with minimal effort. This has been our focus throughout the years since the inception of Display Bulgaria. We have never stopped growing and adapting to our customers’ challenges and global innovations in equipment.

We continue to offer solutions that improve efficiency on the sales floor and enable new technologies and specific equipment to enter more retail outlets. Such solutions include ESL profiles and labellers, NEXT™ shelfless merchandising equipment, self-loading shelf roller systems, keg and bottle merchandising equipment and more

Although we have access to the results of this type of equipment in other countries, each of our proposals is tested in a real environment in our market. We give it the opportunity to prove itself in two ways – to what extent it reduces labour and maintenance time and in what percentage it influences the increase in sales.

Rossy: We are also making constant efforts towards a better service to traders. We deliver on time, we complete by objects or by categories in the store, we assist in the implementation of our various solutions. The situation in the stores is dynamic both in terms of deadlines for refurbishments and new openings and in terms of the portfolio on the shelf. This has taught us to be flexible and to build an organization that guarantees good service. We work together with our customers, get to know the market and keep the most commonly used systems in stock. After nearly 20 years of operation, we can boast of customers we have worked with since the inception of Display Bulgaria and we are their partners, not just suppliers.

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