Ulmart is occasionally referred to as a Russian analogue of Amazon. What are the similarities and differences between the companies?
Sergey Fedorinov: Ulmart is a next-generation internet retailer. We are the first Russian company in the e-commerce space to have turned over a billion dollars in just seven years of operation, a record even by international e-commerce standards. Unlike our overseas colleagues, we started by building our own logistics infrastructure. Having invested in its development, today Ulmart boasts a wide network of various assets covering the whole European part of Russia: three suburban fulfillment centers, 32 urban fulfillment centers and over 400 pick-up points.
We rely on advanced logistics technologies: Ulmart is currently implementing a large-scale investment project to construct fulfillment centers of a new format, to become part of wholesale & retail parks Mizaj. As early as this year, the first suburban fulfillment center serving these parks will be launched in St. Petersburg; its total area will exceed 20,000 sq.m. By 2018, the company is planning to construct seven high-tech logistics facilities of an innovative format.
Today, Ulmart.ru offers over 120,000 SKUs. We are continuing to expand the product line: three years from now Ulmart expects to exceed one million SKUs, not counting digital content. Among the company’s priorities are conversion from the internet shop to an integrated marketplace platform with its own logistics infrastructure based on Ulmart’s fulfillment centre network. The project to establish a marketplace with its own logistics service, including vehicle fleet, suburban and urban fulfillment centers, is unique not only for Russia but also for the global e-commerce market.
The testing and launch of marketplace platform pilot services selling other retailers’ goods is to be implemented before 2015 is out.
From what I know, Ulmart is a young company founded in 2008 but demonstrating vigorous growth. What is the secret of your success?
Sergey Fedorinov: Ulmart has become the most successful e-retailer on a federal scale within a short space of time. Our team started the business in an environment of scarce resources, fortunately having no background in classical retail. We had a great desire to create a company focusing on customers and their needs.
Because we rejected the idea of a traditional retail floor with shelves and sales assistants right from the start, and focused on developing an online channel, today Ulmart boasts the most advanced online goods selection tools. Back then, in 2008, it was a revolutionary market approach: the very thought that the goods could not be touched before purchase aroused mistrust. We have not only coped with this challenge, but introduced a new business model to the market, combining 100% online sales and developing our own logistics facilities. The growth demonstrated by Ulmart is a combination of team enthusiasm, progressive ideas, and a successful business model.
Your company will be participating in EXPO REAL in Munich for the first time. What are your objectives, what would you like to demonstrate and achieve?
Sergey Fedorinov: Ulmart is confident in its future, while demonstrating positive dynamics every year. The company’s successful activities, vast experience in online business development and implementation of its own development projects has become a valuable asset for Ulmart, which we wish to share with foreign partners. Moreover, we are convinced that Ulmart’s achievements are the best case study, illustrating the real picture of the Russian market and its resources.
Our participation in such an ambitious event as EXPO REAL is the story of a changing Russian market as recounted by Ulmart. We are keen on new cooperation formats and emerging projects. Participants in the event are also very welcome to our headquarters in hospitable St. Petersburg.