Managed by Unilever, Compra Agora has a watch on the markets in AL
- October 2, 2022
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Marketplace created in 2016 to meet the demands of small Brazilian retailers, Compra Agora starts operating in Argentina and has plans to arrive in Mexico in 2023. Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador and Paraguay are also in the plans
Created in 2016 by Unilever, Compra Agora has established itself as one of the main B2B platforms focused on small markets in Brazil. Realizing that many of these retailers received sporadic visits from distributors, Unilever developed a marketplace to optimize orders, ensuring that the chain’s intermediaries met the demands of this audience, whose tickets and returns are lower.
With six years of existence, the Compra Agora proposal gained grip, to the point of taking on a life of its own and no longer being under the Unilever umbrella. As a standalone company since June 2020, it started offering products from other companies, such as Kimberly-Clark and Reckitt Benckiser, to a base of almost 450,000 small retailers, of which 70,000 supply their stores via the platform every month. Last year alone, the platform made a total of BRL 4 billion in sales.
In light of this performance, Compra Agora is now leaving the country. The marketplace has been in Argentina since the beginning of this year. In 2023, it will arrive in Mexico. Chile is the next stop. And there are plans for Uruguay, Ecuador and Paraguay.
“The distribution channel of industries in Latin America is very strong because small retail is very large in the region, unlike Europe and the United States”, says Thaise Hagge, General Director of Compra Agora for Latin America at the NeoFeed. “And the industries have a very similar distribution format to reach small retailers in Latin America.”
The first stop of the Compra Agora internationalization plan on the continent was Argentina, where it opened its operations earlier this year. Without revealing billing and sales figures so far, Hagge says that the platform already has 15,000 plugged-in shopkeepers, who buy every month, and six partner companies.
In addition to Unilever, which is the majority shareholder of Compra Agora and who helps to open doors in the countries of the region, the marketplace offers Kimberly-Clark products in Argentina, as well as local names such as Molinos Tres Arroyos, which produces pasta.
According to Hagge, Argentina was chosen as the first destination at the request of companies for which Compra Agora already provided services in Brazil, as they have a relevant share in the Argentine market. This situation even overcame fears about the economic crisis that the country is going through, with inflation accumulating a high of 56.4% until August.
“O market share of these companies allowed us to start operating with a relevant marketplace”, he says. “The economy is a challenge, with rampant inflation, but it hasn’t changed the plans, it was much more a question of how to adapt.”
Compra Agora’s next destination in Latin America is Mexico, with operations scheduled to start in January 2023. Hagge is very optimistic about the possibilities offered by the Mexican market, given that it is a country in which the neighborhood is “giant”.
According to her, there are about 900,000 small businesses in Mexico, the so-called changarros. They are much smaller stores than in Brazil, which have one to nine checkouts, but which have a strong weight in the Mexican economy. “Usually, the changarros they are informal, they operate in the garages of the houses, but they are super relevant”, he says.
After establishing operations in Mexico, Hagge says Compra Agora intends to move to Chile, where it has started conversations with local industries and distributors. Further on, the idea is to take the platform to Uruguay, Ecuador and Paraguay, but moves in this direction have not yet started.
The expectation is that international operations will take some time to mature. Compra Agora is not counting on Argentina’s results to meet the goal set for 2022, of reaching an amount of BRL 5 billion in sales.
In Brazil, Compra Agora has 47 industries and 100 distributors connected to the platform. In addition to seeking to help small businesses supply their shelves more efficiently, using data to identify consumption profiles and make appropriate suggestions and promotions, it also offers a credit service so that retailers can make replacement purchases and loyalty programs. .
The platform is one of the initiatives produced by the food and consumer goods industry to solve issues with product distribution and improvement of services for smaller stores, an economic segment that has registered strong growth in recent years.
In 2021, the number of grocery stores opened in Brazil grew 13.6% compared to the previous year, according to Sebare data. There are about 400,000 establishments of this kind in operation, with Individual Microentrepreneurs (MEIs) being the majority of these ventures.
In order to better serve small retailers, Ambev launched the Bees platform in 2021, a marketplace aimed at serving bars and restaurants, in addition to having financial services, one of which releasing credit for points of sale, and a partnership with Pão of Sugar to increase the assortment of products.
A service that was not born in the industry, but that aims to connect small retailers with companies is Souk. The platform was born from the experience of Seara Alimentos, from JBS, to sell products that are about to expire.
“This segment is very fragmented and pulverized, so the service of this universe of mini-markets, neighborhood markets, most of them independent, is quite complex within a vast, regionalized territory and with the limitations of infrastructure like Brazil”, says Alberto Serrentino , founding partner of Varese Retail consultancy.