Retail on the remote. Alternative technologies for current trading formats

A few years ago, the phrase "shop without customers" caused confusion. With the development of digital technologies (and especially during the pandemic), sales of everyday goods are increasingly moving online. And the Dark store format is becoming more and more profitable for entrepreneurs. And if you choose the equipment and technologies correctly– you can make it as efficient as possible, which is what the LAND company will help with.

Dark store is a store that looks like both a warehouse and a trading floor of an ordinary supermarket - only without signage, buyers, advertising and cash registers. The organization of work in such a store is aimed at the fastest possible formation of online orders. The UK became the founder of the format in 2009, and the first such store opened in Russia in 2016. The pilot project in Moscow was implemented by one of the largest grocery chains in Russia — Perekrestok (X5 Retail Group), and the supply and installation of refrigeration equipment were carried out by LAND.

Общий вид торгового зала dark store
General view of the dark store trading floor

No "average temperature"

The LAND Group of companies is a leader in the market of shop building, for more than 25 years of the company's work, more than 18,000 stores of various formats have been opened throughout Russia. The long-term experience of the Land company allows you to quickly and flexibly respond to modern requests in terms of design, construction and equipping a modern store with commercial equipment. "From the point of view of refrigeration equipment, dark store is a combination of industrial-scale refrigerating chambers and commercial refrigeration equipment," explains Sergey Pleshanov, Technical Director of LAND Management Company LLC. - Dark stores tend to the FMCG segment - food and essential goods, for which the speed of picking and delivery of the order, as well as the storage conditions of the goods are fundamentally important. In stores without customers, unlike warehouses, more accurate storage temperatures are maintained for different categories of goods." At the moment, LAND has already successfully implemented five dark store facilities, one of them was put into operation during the general quarantine: a store in Vidnoye opened in April 2020, ahead of schedule — due to increased demand amid a difficult epidemiological situation. The equipment can be operated online by the Land–Service service and monitoring service, which performs remote monitoring using the Danfoss ADAP KOOL® control system and software from Danfoss. Control and maintenance are carried out via remote access.

Minimum costs and green technologies in trade

Dark store is beneficial not only to buyers, but also to retailers: in fact, they launch a hypermarket operating in warehouse mode and do not bear the costs associated with customer service. And the features of the format allow you to reduce the figures in other items of expenditure.

In connection with the tightening of environmental standards, one of the main trends of recent times in shop building is the transition from non-ecological freons in refrigeration equipment to natural refrigerants, such as carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is non-toxic and non-explosive, as well as completely safe for the environment. The main thing is that CO2 is produced in Russia in unlimited quantities and is available in almost any region of our vast country at a price ten times lower than freon. The LAND company is the leader in the market of shop building in Russia in terms of the number of open stores on CO2. Thus, replacing the traditional refrigerant with "green" CO2 will increase the amount of heat generated, which will make it possible to use it for heating and hot water supply of administrative and economic zones.

Стоимость различных источников тепла для отопления магазина
Стоимость различных источников тепла для отопления магазина

"According to our calculations, switching to natural refrigerant R744 (CO2) can reduce annual energy consumption by about 15% relative to the freon scheme," explains Sergey Pleshanov. — And when using Danfoss ejector technology, the savings value will increase to the level of 25%. At the same time, the payback period for capital expenditures (increased in comparison with the standard system) will be no more than 5 years."

In addition, savings can be achieved by organizing a system of integrated automation of engineering equipment at the facility.

"The concept of the dark store is primarily aimed at minimizing the use of human resources," recalls Maxim Katraev, an engineer at Danfoss LLC. - In this aspect, the centralized system of automatic control of all engineering networks deserves special attention. The Danfoss system allows you to automatically control air conditioning, heating and lighting. The organization of an integrated automation system will allow to achieve a reduction in energy costs by up to 20%."

Taking into account the adopted environmental amendments, conditions for the widespread use of carbon dioxide as a refrigerant will be created in the Russian Federation from January 1, 2021.

Testing in practice

The possibilities of the new format in combination with alternative and digital technologies are being explored by the leader of grocery retail X5 Retail Group.

"Our company is constantly working to improve the efficiency of facilities," says Anatoly Trostenyuk, Head of the Department for Strategy and Development of e-commerce at X5 Retail Group. — We are closely following the latest developments in the field of energy-saving and the use of alternative refrigerants. The dark store format is suitable for getting acquainted with CO2 technologies in practice. Carbon dioxide systems provide good results in terms of reducing operating costs and the payback period of capital investments. And the concept of integrated automation has already found its application in a large number of traditional stores. The combination of CO2 technology and integrated automation should make it possible to achieve the most efficient operation of dark store format facilities."

Trading behind the scenes

In the UK, online sales of consumer goods account for 7.5% of the market, in France, there are more than 2 thousand dark stores (market share — 5.7%). In Russia, the online food market is growing more dynamically than other retail segments, and remote sales have become especially popular during the pandemic.

"The dark store format is still quite young," Sergey Pleshanov admits. - But it is actively developing in the Russian market and in the near future, it will reach a level not inferior to its European counterparts. The availability of high-quality online grocery stores is a prerequisite for the comfortable existence of residents in large cities, especially if we take into account the epidemiological situation in the country. The specialists of the LAND company, when implementing certain energy-efficient solutions, necessarily carry out a detailed feasibility study, which allows you to evaluate the future project in advance and achieve significant resource savings and a quick return on investment."